The Story of Beautiful Girl has a strong start with a vivid scene. In 1968, an elderly widowed schoolteacher answers her door to find a deaf man and a woman with a mental disability. She discovers that the woman just gave birth to a baby and the couple escaped from the Pennsylvania State School for the Incurable and Feebleminded. As the man runs and the woman gets carted away by authorities, she manages to whisper to the widow, "Hide her." And thus begins this story of love and determination.
Award-winning narrator Kate Reading gives a compelling performance. Reading has narrated diverse books from science fiction to Jane Austen. Her range is evident in this performance. Reading deftly handles the alternating viewpoints and diverse characters, from an older repressed woman finding a new purpose in her life to a deaf African American male who has known more than his share of pain to a world-weary, compassionate nurse. She tempers some melodramatic writing and keeps the story grounded, allowing listeners to find the novel believable and relatable..
Author Rachel Simon is best known for her memoir, Riding the Bus with My Sister. She gives a heartbreaking glimpse inside America's shameful history of institutions with The Story of Beautiful Girl. This is the novel's greatest strength, the revelation of how families and communities failed to care for its most vulnerable members. Listeners will want to stick with the novel to find out what happens to the characters and the school, but the novel does not quite live up to the promising introduction. The writing is overwrought at times and the frequent alternating viewpoints with time jumps become tiresome.
Despites its flaws, The Story of Beautiful Girl is still affecting and will appeal to fans of Kim Edwards' The Memory Keeper's Daughter and Simon's previous work, as well as those interested in the treatment of people with disabilities. Kate Reading's performance moderates weaker aspects and succeeds in making the novel an engaging listen. Julie MacDonald
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.
©2011 Rachel Simon (P)2011 Hachette Audio
I've listened to this book three times within two years. One reason I liked this book is because the story is so different from anything I've heard or read before. The narrator gave such an EXCELLENT performance and really gave life to the characters. I think it's a book for women more then men and ladies I encourage you to listen. It's sad but you won't want to stop listening.
This was the story about people who used to be put away and forgotten in mental institutions because their families either didn't want to deal with them or were convinced their children would be better off there. Set in Massachusetts, it's the story about a young white girl, Lynnie, who has a developmental disability, and Homan, an African American deaf mute man, who escaped from the institution together. Lynnie, called "Beautiful Girl" by Homan, touched me to my very soul. I don't want to give the story away so I won't say more, except to say the story spans 40 years and sucked me in from the very beginning. I loved it.
The vacation at the end
Felt like crying with joy.
Very enlightening story about people with disabilities. Great story. Reminds me that there are many good loving people
I get unreasonably attached to fictional characters
A great, feel-good story about a young woman with a mental handicap, and her struggles in and out of a "school" for the disabled. A bit of history about the 70's and 80's institutions for the disabled, a bit of a coming of age story, and a lot about love in all it's forms.
I teared up. A lot.
I couldn't listen to this book fast enough. While I feel like it was a bit rushed toward the end with trying to tie up loose ends and put things together nicely, I thought the story was great and made me think, long after I was done listening.
Linney and Kate and Martha I can't pick one. All the characters are lovely.
Made me laugh and cry! My sign of a good book!
A bit predictable but well told. The author tells the heart of 2 people who are unable to express it themselves.
The end was predictiable so I only am giving this book 4 stars. But, getting to the end was a wonderful reading experience. I foun myself thinking of the book long after I was done listening to it.
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