When twelve-year-old Newell Ewing goes missing one night after going out with an older friend, lives are seemingly ripped from their seams. For Lincoln and Lorraine, the parents, there is shock, devastation, but for awhile, anyway, there is still hope. They watch old videos of their son and try to find a semblance of a life.

On another plane, or in an alternate time line, we see the ongoing lives of teens living a life on the edge: on the streets, doing porn movies, doing drugs….and barely existing.

Through the numerous pages of this very depressing tale, the characters in Beautiful Children: A Novel never feel like more than cardboard cutouts in a surreal world. Perhaps they are drawn this way to make the point that their lives are mere existences; that they are not truly living.

At any rate, reading this novel felt like trudging through a field of bubble gum. It was exhausting, it was slow-going, and it felt futile. I knew from the beginning that the ending would not be a happy one…and in that respect, I was definitely not disappointed.

Two stars were the most I could award this book, which I thought could have been a good story.