The Story of Beautiful Girl

The Story of Beautiful Girl

Book - 2011
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In 1968, Lynnie, a white woman with a disability, and Homan, a deaf African-American man, are languishing in a mental institution. After Lynnie becomes pregnant, she escapes with Homan and they are taken in by Martha, a widow who owns a farmhouse. When authorities find them, Homan escapes and Lynnie is captured, while Martha hides Lynnie's newborn baby. Over the next 40 years, Lynnie, Homan, Martha, and baby Julia lead divided lives.
Publisher: New York : Grand Central Pub., 2011
Characteristics: 346 p. ; 24 cm
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780446574464 (hbk.)
0446574465 (hbk.)
Call Number: FICTION SIMON

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EljayJohnson
Jul 21, 2019

There is a heartbreaking, incisive novel that could be written about our very recent shameful history of institutionalizing in wretched conditions our disabled and different members of our communities. This, however, is not that book. This was a Lifetime Movie/Hallmark Special treatment of that subject, with an at times preposterously contrived plot filled with almost hilariously unbelievable elements and coincidences. This isn't to say I hated this; I can like and be manipulated by a Hallmark Special as much as the next sappy weeper. But I would have preferred the story of Lynnie and her love Homan to have been treated more realistically and truthfully. That would have been a better book than this.

This is the story of Lynnie, a young white woman who has a developmental disability that hinders her ability to speak, and Homan, an African American deaf man, with only his home sign language to guide him. Both were institutionalized in the mid-twentieth century, forgotten and unloved. One night Lynnie and Homan escape. They find refuge, and Lynnie gives birth to her child, a daughter. Lynnie is eventually captured and returned to the institution, but Homan escapes capture. And, so begins the story of three lives desperate to connect, but kept apart by seemingly insurmountable obstacles. I devoured this book. It is lovingly written, and got under my skin and into my heart. (submitted by library customer YE)

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Ginger_44
Dec 23, 2016

This was a beautiful book. Before reading it, I had no clue about the oppression that people with disabilities faced in the 20th and even the 21st century. Also, I absolutely loved how Rachel Simon intertwined four lives, and thus, four different viewpoints, to create one impeccable story. This book was quite a page-turner and really made me think.

Cdnbookworm Feb 20, 2014

This book was written to highlight the sad history of state homes for developmentally delayed adults and those with disabilities. The author's sister Beth had an intellectual disability and that made Simon interested in the history of society's treatment of these individuals.
This novel begins in 1968 when retired schoolteacher Martha has a knock on the door of her remote farmhouse on a rainy night. She opens the door to Lynnie and Homan who have escaped from the Pennsylvania State School for the Incurable and Feebleminded, as it was known at that time. They also have with them Lynnie's newborn baby. Martha takes them in, clothes and feeds them, but unfortunately the authorities aren't far behind and are soon also knocking on Martha's door. They take Lynnie back to the School, but Homan makes a successful run for it, and the authorities seem to have no knowledge of the baby's existence. Lynnie's please to Martha to "hide her" rings of desperation and Martha struggles with the right thing to do.
Martha was an inspiring teacher and she has a number of former students to come back to visit her. Now, she is the one going to them, for advice, for assistance, and for shelter as she follows Lynnie's instruction, and raises the child she has quickly grown to love.
Lynnie resumes her old life back at the school, and one of the staff Kate, that has been close to her, discovers her situation regarding the baby and struggles with whether to inform others or not. With Lynnie's confiding pictures, Kate follows the trail to Martha's house and finds support to keep the secret for both Lynnie and the baby's sake.
Homan, meanwhile is on the run once again. Misunderstood and prejudiced against the young deaf man struggles to understand the world he lives in and find a place in it.
Neither Homan nor Lynnie forget the other and both hope to one day find a way back to each other.
Of course over the course of time, society's role in the lives of these marginalized people changes as well as the maltreatment of them becomes more widely known and changes are made to help them rather than just hide them from view.
A moving tale of love, societal change, and perseverance.

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_Abi_
May 18, 2013

I loved this book!

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scrubble4
Aug 27, 2012

Extraordinary writing. The story engages you and keeps you until the end. It is a happy ending for a set of lives that have experienced endless challenge. But that is not the best part, the best part is the extraordinary writing on every page that kept me revelling in the pictures, sents, feelings the author created.

I now want to read everything Rachel Simon has written and I feel so fortunate to have found another author to savor.

m
muffin0321
Aug 21, 2012

I agree with all the comments. Ending was a little too pat for me. Hard to believe that after 25 some years all three came together and so quickly. But a good story and I did enjoy it.

Sisters4 Jul 21, 2012

This was a novel, so things did work out for a good ending. The type of endings I enjoy! It was a difficult subject but beautifully written.

smc01 Jul 09, 2012

The story line of this book seemed compelling but I was disappointed to find it was completely implausible. I kept asking myself whether I should keep reading, and did finish it, but didn't believe the ending. Some characters are well drawn, such as Martha and Lynnie, and the story line is interesting. I just wish it could have been told more realistically. Overall, a disappointment.

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modestgoddess
Jun 12, 2012

I didn't love this. It was okay, but was, unfortunately, your typical American-has-to-have-a-happy-ending novel. Really stretched credibility. Did provide an interesting window onto an unfortunate past, but the characters' personal lives were very difficult to believe. One example: at one point, the deaf-mute, Homan, escapes from a church that allegedly heals people's physical ailments and handicaps, with a young man in a wheelchair. They run from the front of the church, up the aisle through lots and lots of people who miraculously get out of their way, out to the parking lot - and somehow, Homan gets the young man, in his wheelchair, loaded into his special vehicle and gets in himself and the young man indicates where the keys are - conveniently, in a purse sitting on the front seat - and away they go, before people come flooding out of the church to stop them. Sorry, don't buy it - no way could he have done all that before someone caught up to them and stopped them. There were a few odd moments here and there, like this one, that just tripped me right up, and I really resent that in a book. I want to be able to keep reading and believing, not stopping and thinking, "No way could that ever have happened."

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