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The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon
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The Story of Beautiful Girl (edition 2012)

by Rachel Simon

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7886511,673 (3.89)28
Member:bohemiangirl35
Title:The Story of Beautiful Girl
Authors:Rachel Simon
Info:Grand Central Publishing (2012), Edition: First Trade Edition, Paperback, 368 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:***1/2
Tags:audio book

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The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon

Recently added byselous_katie, Maureen_McCombs, private library, INorris
  1. 30
    The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman (Richardson76)
    Richardson76: So far this year these 2 books have been my favorite. Both are written well with wonderful and unusual story lines. I think both would make great book club books. Highly recommend both and solidify why I read in the first place.
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Showing 1-5 of 64 (next | show all)
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. ( )
  2kidsandtired | Aug 2, 2016 |
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. ( )
  2kidsandtired | Aug 2, 2016 |
I enjoyed this book. It has four main characters: Lynnie, Homan/No. 42, Martha and Julia. Lynnie and Homan are in a school where parents can stick their kids if they don't want to take care of them because they are different. Lynnie is developmentally challenged. The story starts in the 1960 where families just couldn't cope with disabled children and so they stuck them into “schools” that were not very desirable but a lot of the public didn’t know how bad the schools were. The book takes us on the journey of the characters and their struggles through the years. Homan just wants to get back to Lynnie but he is deaf and doesn’t know sign language so he can’t convey to people what he wants so he just kind of goes with the flow. Lynnie eventually learns to speak again and get stronger as a person after the cruelty she endured at the school including being raped and having a child who she gives to Martha to protect and hide. There wasn’t much about Julia in the book as she grows up and we lose track of Martha halfway through the book. I did appreciate when the author switched narrative voices that she let us know by having each chapter with the character’s name and with the year. It did start out pretty dramatically and then seemed to slow down and then quickly ended. I would have liked to have had more flushing out of Julia and Martha. I would have liked to have known how Julia coped after the age of 14. But over all, it was a good read. ( )
  MHanover10 | Jul 10, 2016 |
It is 1968 and developmental handicapped Lynnie and Homan, an African American deaf man are institutionalized at the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded. They manage to escape to the farmhouse of retired teacher , Martha. As the orderlies take Lynnie back, she tells Martha to protect her baby. ( )
  creighley | Jun 28, 2016 |
This was a really powerful story about institutionalizing disabled people and the movement toward inclusion in society.  The story was really well-written as the author narrated each chapter through the eyes of one of the main characters. The author truly tried to capture Lynnie and Homan's inability to completely understand what was happening around them.  That made it necessary to pay careful attention while reading because I could get lost in the confusion, too. My main complaint with the story was the Lifetime movie" ending where everything ended perfectly.  Upon reflection, however, I think I deserved the happy ending after the emotional roller coaster ride the rest of the novel was." ( )
  jguidry | May 31, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 64 (next | show all)
Simon, who wrote so sensitively about disability in her memoir Riding the Bus With My Sister, often skirts schmaltz in The Story of Beautiful Girl, but she manages to steer her reader toward the truly stirring.
 
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Epigraph
Telling our stories is holy work.  --The Reverend Nancy Lane, Ph.D.
Dedication
For those who were put away.
First words
At the end of the night that would change everything, the widow stood on her porch and watched as the young woman was marched down her front drive and shoved into the sedan.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0446574465, Hardcover)

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.

Exclusive Essay from Rachel Simon
Rachel Simon

When The Story of Beautiful Girl came out, I kept getting asked two questions. Why was I drawn to writing disability-themed literature? And was it hard to write from the point of view of characters with disabilities?

My answer to the first question begins with this basic fact: for one month every year, I am a twin.

My sister Beth, who has an intellectual disability, was born eleven months after me. So every year when I visit her for her birthday, the first thing we both say is, "Now we’re twins!" And for the next thirty days, as she gleefully moves through her days wearing the Tweety Bird shirts and using the Scooby Doo stickers I bought for her big celebration, we are indeed twins. Then my birthday rolls around, and when I visit her for that admittedly more secondary occasion, and she thrusts dozens of handmade cards at me, all of which express her happiness at my coming to see her, the first thing we both say is, "Now we’re not twins."

As with any siblings who are so close in age, we’ve shared a lot: parents, a brother and sister, a challenging family history, bedrooms, opinions, dreams, tears, jokes, anxieties, secrets, unspoken understandings, and sideways glances. So I have a reasonably good sense of how my sister feels, what she thinks, who she cares about, and why she does what she does.

Of course, there are additional layers to our relationship because of her disability. I feel a sense of responsibility toward her and she feels a level of trust in me. We’ve both always known that, whenever necessary, I will act as a go-between: I will explain to her the things she doesn’t understand about the world, and I will explain to the world the things it doesn’t understand about her.

At the same time, since she is a person with a disability, I’ve spent my life noticing--and being annoyed at--how so much of the world has got it all wrong when it comes to my sister and others like her. How she gets ignored by waitresses, snickered at by teenagers, patronized by people who assume she’s helpless, underestimated by people who assume she’s angelic. In addition, I’ve pondered many of the deepest issues about the mind. What is universal about intelligence? About sorrow and longing? About pleasure and love? On top of all this, I’ve long wondered: Why does so much of the public just not get it? And how, given that some people like my sister never get seen or acknowledged or heard by the world, might that ever change?

In 2002, I tried to do what I could to answer those thoughts. I wrote a memoir about my relationship with Beth, Riding The Bus With My Sister, which is about both her present-day passion of riding city buses and our lives as siblings from birth to middle age. The book, which was also adapted for a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie by the same name, led to my getting asked to give talks around the country. At every talk, I met more and more people with disabilities, their family members, and the professionals who work with them. They told me their stories, and I started to feel a new urge. I wanted to do whatever I could to give voice to those who had never been heard.

I realized I was in an unusual position to take on that responsibility. As a family member, I wouldn’t get bogged down by cliches and stereotypes. As someone who’d already published two books of fiction before Riding The Bus With My Sister, I wouldn’t have to stick with nonfiction, nor was I daunted by the idea of a novel. As a sister who’d stood up for Beth since the day I was conscious of my own existence, I felt a sense of mission. And as a once-a-year twin, I had developed the skill of being a go-between.

This gets me to the second question. Was it hard to write The Story of Beautiful Girl through the eyes of characters with disabilities?

I wish I could say it took a huge amount of effort. But there’s another word that’s synonymous with being a go-between: being a translator. I’ve spent my life translating the world into terms my sister could comprehend--and translating my sister into terms the world could comprehend.

So when I sat down to write the characters of Beautiful Girl and Number Forty-Two, I just did what I’ve always done. I wrote about the world’s rules and injustices and rewards and irrationalities as those characters would perceive them. And I wrote about their wonderings and yearnings and motivations and joys in ways that readers would understand.

Neither character is like my sister. And both go through adversity and anguish the likes of which my sister has never seen. But I wouldn’t say that writing their experiences was hard for me.

I would say, instead, that it was heart-opening and soul-deepening.

I would say, instead, that it was fun.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:30 -0400)

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"A novel about a woman who can't speak, a man who is deaf, and a widow who finds herself suddenly caring for a newborn baby"--Provided by publisher.

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