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Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Story of Beautiful Girl...Review

It is 1968. Lynnie, a young white woman with a developmental disability, and Homan, an African American deaf man, are locked away in an institution, the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded, and have been left to languish, forgotten. Deeply in love, they escape, and find refuge in the farmhouse of Martha, a retired schoolteacher and widow. But the couple is not alone--Lynnie has just given birth to a baby girl. When the authorities catch up to them that same night, Homan escapes into the darkness, and Lynnie is caught. But before she is forced back into the institution, she whispers two words to Martha: "Hide her." 

And so begins the 40-year epic journey of Lynnie, Homan, Martha, and baby Julia--lives divided by seemingly insurmountable obstacles, yet drawn together by a secret pact and extraordinary love.

Locked away in an institution, circumstances arise that force Lynnie and Homan to attempt escape.  They find themselves seeking shelter at Martha's farmhouse and when she opens the door to them, Martha has no idea the future that awaits her or how her life will forever be connected to theirs.

The story moves between characters over the course of 40 years.  Admittedly, I found Homan's viewpoint hard to follow at times because of his deafness but, at the same time, I was enthralled with his perspective and how he related to people and situations.  I loved these characters, especially Lynnie and Kate and their relationship.  As the story progresses and we see where time and experience take everyone, I didn't want to put the book down.  I will admit to both liking and disliking the ending though.

Rachel Simon did a fantastic job in her setting and in her treatment of these people who might be delayed, but by no means were unintelligent.  Homan, especially, was a wonderful character: a man who was simply hearing impaired and who communicated with a form of sign language not understood by others, ended up in an institution. I don't begin to understand the psychology and reasoning behind these institutions and schools, although I can see why people would be afraid of those with disabilities.  Even with our enlightened understanding of disabilities today, there are still misconceptions and judgments.  In her writing, the author showed us both the good and bad in humanity and the difference that perseverance, love and a sprinkling of charity can make in a person's life.

I loved the author's note and acknowledgments at the end of the book where she explains why she wrote the book and her personal connection to it.  This is a captivating story and I one I wholly enjoyed.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 10/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

4 comments:

  1. I started this on audio and the narration was so flat, I realized my mind was wandering and I had no idea what was going on. It sounds like I need to get the print version of the book.

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  2. This sounds really unusual! Thanks for bringing it to our attention - I might have to read this!

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  3. Great review. I had thought this book was just an 'issues' book but you make it sound like more than that.

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  4. This sounds like a book of substancec. Thanks for sharing your review.

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