Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter, is an engaging and well-written novel that tells the story of a disparate group of people whose lives overlap, from a young Italian innkeeper in the 1960s to a young woman aspiring to be a film producer in the 2000s. It is difficult to describe the plot line, but it is about more than the plot – it is about human imperfection and the lives we create and dream and live. The writing itself is excellent and a large part of what makes it a good book. The chapters jump around in time and focus on different characters, which I can find quite jarring. However, Walter made it work with writing that quickly engages the reader in whichever story is currently being told. Some of the chapters even felt like they could exist as short stories in their own right. Walter also managed to write a book about heavy topics with a light touch that kept it from being a downer and had plenty of humor. I definitely recommend this book!