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The Story of Beautiful Girl Audiobook

The Story of Beautiful Girl

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Audible Editor Reviews

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.

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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

Publisher's Summary

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

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (363 )
5 star
 (155)
4 star
 (129)
3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Overall
4.2 (279 )
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3 star
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1 star
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Story
4.2 (275 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    diahema 04-28-16
    diahema 04-28-16
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
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    Performance
    Story
    "awsome"

    a great read. the beginning was the best part of the story. great book yo read

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jacqueline 03-31-16
    Jacqueline 03-31-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    25
    13
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    Story
    "Wonderfully sad."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Connie DURHAM, NC, United States 03-03-15
    Connie DURHAM, NC, United States 03-03-15 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    42
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    46
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    Story
    "Beautiful story"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    June 02-09-13
    June 02-09-13 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
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    19
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    Story
    "Absolutely wonderful"
    Which scene was your favorite?

    The vacation at the end


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Felt like crying with joy.


    Any additional comments?

    Very enlightening story about people with disabilities. Great story. Reminds me that there are many good loving people

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Christiano Seneca Falls, NY 02-05-13
    A. Christiano Seneca Falls, NY 02-05-13 Member Since 2012

    I get unreasonably attached to fictional characters

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    84
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    Story
    "A Beautiful Story!"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karren LOGAN, UT, United States 01-31-13
    Karren LOGAN, UT, United States 01-31-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    47
    4
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    Story
    "Story stays with you"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lea SHELL LAKE, WI, United States 12-21-12
    Lea SHELL LAKE, WI, United States 12-21-12 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    39
    7
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Beautiful story"
    Where does The Story of Beautiful Girl rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Top ten


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Linney and Kate and Martha I can't pick one. All the characters are lovely.


    What about Kate Reading’s performance did you like?

    Perfect


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes!


    Any additional comments?

    Made me laugh and cry! My sign of a good book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Placitas, NM, United States 07-13-12
    Robert Placitas, NM, United States 07-13-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    82
    11
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    Story
    "Beautiful is Pretty"

    A bit predictable but well told. The author tells the heart of 2 people who are unable to express it themselves.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MrsDagnabit 09-11-11
    MrsDagnabit 09-11-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    54
    1
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    Story
    "Wonderful Story. Well written."

    Really holds on to you emotionally. Very difficult to put down. A thoroughly enjoyable listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shannon Woodbridge, VA, United States 06-06-11
    Shannon Woodbridge, VA, United States 06-06-11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    2
    Overall
    "Beautiful Girl is a Beautiful Story"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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