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The Story of Beautiful Girl | [Rachel Simon]

The Story of Beautiful Girl

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.
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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

4.0 (290 )
5 star
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4.1 (213 )
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4.2 (211 )
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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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  •  
    Robert Placitas, NM, United States 07-13-12
    Robert Placitas, NM, United States 07-13-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    64
    10
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    "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
    0
    ratings
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    33
    1
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    "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
  •  
    elise 05-18-11
    elise 05-18-11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    65
    3
    Overall
    "Worthy subject matter but kind of average."

    This is a nice book but the story is a bit cheesy and over emotional. The characters were a bit one dimensional.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    undray orlando, FL, United States 10-25-11
    undray orlando, FL, United States 10-25-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    10
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    "beautiful girl, beautiful story"

    it was awesome, kept me waiting for the next part, was so upset when it came to an end. i do hope they will consider a part two.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Newman Atlanta, GA, United States 09-05-11
    Newman Atlanta, GA, United States 09-05-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    51
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    "One of the best this year"

    Amazing book... couldn't stop listening. Middle grows a tad long, but worth it in the end, for sure.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    glamazon The Coast of Rhode Island 05-13-11
    glamazon The Coast of Rhode Island 05-13-11 Member Since 2003

    glam

    HELPFUL VOTES
    4503
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    483
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    Overall
    "Unrelatable and simplistic"

    This book reads like one of those dream/nightmare scenes - which I always fast-forward through by the way - lots of "and then she did this and then he did that, ran away, came to a weird place and then and then...etc." I prefer a more grounded approach, and more approachable subject matter.

    Also, I am tired of books that happen in 1968, 1982, or any other time but the present. I am just not that interested in recent historical periods. What do could these periods possibly offer that "now" doesn't? This is simply my perspective but I find it difficult to care about recent history, from a fiction angle, anyway.

    The narrator reads with a wavering voice and a drama and weight that created a negative, sad, depressing, lonely feeling. And she kept pronouncing the word "Nana" with a flat "a" so that it sounded like babyspeak.

    Not my cup of tea.

    3 of 15 people found this review helpful
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