Liked "Riding The bus With My Sister" but gave up on this one halfway through. I didn't want to know what happened to the characters enough to keep going.
In "The Story of Beautiful Girl," Rachel Simon opens the door of our world to the minds of individuals who are not all that different from us but who struggle every day to be understood. Every now and then, I will read a book that touches my heart and lingers with me long after I have read the last page. The story of Lynnie and Homan is just such a book.
While Lynnie seems a bit slow, she certainly doesn't suffer from gross retardation; and Homan is simply hearing-impaired (deaf), not intellectually compromised whatsoever. Regardless, due to a combination of poor choices, misdiagnosis, and being victims of the era into which they were born, they both end up being institutionalized for a good portion of their lives. The tragic circumstances in which they are forced to exist are harsh, abusive, neglectful, and inhumane
The story begins in 1968 on a stormy night when a lonely widow, Martha, opens her farmhouse door to a wet, terrified developmentally-disabled Caucasian woman, Lynnie, and her deaf African-American friend, Homan seeking refuge. Martha gives them shelter and as Lynnie removes her wet outer clothes, she unwraps a just-born baby girl. A little later that night, there is a second knock on the door, and it is the authorities from The Pennsylvania School for the Incurable and Feebleminded looking for two escaped inmates. But, the authorities only find Lynnie, as Homan has escaped into the dark undetected. As Lynnie is leaving she quietly whispers two words to Martha,' hide her.' Lynnie is hoping that she will not be isolated when she is returned to the school, as how else will Homan find her again. While escaping Homan is thinking on how to get back to the school to rescue Lynnie, and Martha needs to decide whether she will honor Lynnie's request.
This endearing novel goes on to follow the lives of the main characters; Homan, Lynnie, Martha and Julia (baby) over the next 40 years. I really enjoyed the book and am truly thankful that our system has changed and people with disabilities have better opportunities, and treated with the dignity they deserve.
I believe reviews should help you decide if of all the books you own is this one worth your time to read. I believe the answer is yes. But you might feel, like me, that the story sure is full of co-incidences that are not all that probable or believable. As long as you can grasp that this is fiction, you might not be disappointed. Lots of flash backs that help piece the story together, plus dream sequences, and memories (which are different than flashbacks) that all add up to a book well written, but maybe tried too hard.
I have to say that this book reminds me of a book we read in high school, The Octopus. You have to read 90% (force yourself to read it) and the last 10% is good. If I hadn't been listening to this in the car during my daily commute, I probably wouldn't have finished it.
Beautifully and compassionately written story. Lynnie ("Beautiful Girl") escapes from the Pennsylvania school for the Feebleminded and gives birth to her baby. (She
had gotten pregnant due to a rape at the school). Wanting to save her child from life at the institution, she goes to the house of a stranger and asks the homeowner to hide the child. The story follows Lynnie, Martha (the retired teacher who takes the baby), and Homan (Lynnie's deaf-mute friend who helped her escape) over a period of forty years.
The author did an amazing job of storytelling from the points of view of the developmentallyy disabled Lynnie and the deaf Homan.
Really enjoyed this one.