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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 (291 )
5 star
 (109)
4 star
 (111)
3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Overall
4.1 (214 )
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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Story
4.2 (212 )
5 star
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4 star
 (73)
3 star
 (37)
2 star
 (5)
1 star
 (3)
Performance
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  •  
    FanB14 05-24-12
    FanB14 05-24-12

    Short, Simple, No Spoilers

    HELPFUL VOTES
    4440
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    134
    124
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    302
    7
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Beautiful Attempt"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Yes, it was worth the listen. Not one of the best, but a solid "B" effort.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Rachel Simon? Why or why not?

    Yes, I think she is a credible author. The subject matter and overall premise was interesting, just had gaps and hokey at times. The ending was tied up too neatly and seemed a little far-fetched.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Kate Reading?

    I did not care from the narrator. I would have cast someone with a younger sounding voice without the northern accent.


    Do you think The Story of Beautiful Girl needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    No, couldn't support it.


    27 of 27 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shellbin 05-10-11
    Shellbin 05-10-11 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    66
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    29
    19
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    4
    0
    Overall
    "oh yeah"

    This book took me awhile to get into, despite the fact that it is gripping, moving, compelling, from the first paragraph. There was no problem with it holding my interest. However, some things in the story seem - especially at first - a bit far-fetched. It required some suspension of disbelief. Once I was past a certain point in the novel, however, what had been bothering me along those lines of believe-ability evaporated. The last few hours especially are "driveway material" - if you've been listening in the car, it's likely you'll be hunting for some headphones as soon as you get in the house.

    Bottom line for this reviewer: a beautiful, moving novel.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tracy H 05-02-13
    Tracy H 05-02-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    43
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "So so"

    A fine performance, but the story seemed contrived and unrealistic. Was interesting but not really believable overall.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bobbie LEEDEY, OK, United States 02-05-13
    Bobbie LEEDEY, OK, United States 02-05-13 Member Since 2011

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    65
    16
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Just not my thing"

    This book was really not my cup of tea. After reading the summary, I was excited about hearing this one. However, as the story unfolded, I thought it was unbelievable and boring. Most of the characters were dull, and the plot was ridiculous as well. It is surprising to me that so many people enjoyed this story. I'm truly stumped by this book's popularity.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    April Leesburg, VA, United States 01-06-13
    April Leesburg, VA, United States 01-06-13

    Love W.E.B. Griffin! Love the Wicked series. Love historical "sagas" and descriptive word pictures that put me in the time and place. Love listening on my long commute every day. Audible has made commuting tolerable!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wonderful display of "six degrees of separation.""
    What did you love best about The Story of Beautiful Girl?

    This story reinforces the importance of treating EVERYONE you come in contact with dignity and respect. A full life is had not by proving how much better one is than another but by experiencing all the amazing talents and beauty in the people around you. So many people have amazing talents and perspectives.


    What about Kate Reading’s performance did you like?

    Wonderful performance. I could picture the characters in her voice.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrea Linz, Austria 06-26-11
    Andrea Linz, Austria 06-26-11 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    110
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    187
    123
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    7
    0
    Overall
    "overly dramatic"

    Despite the sad theme its a very predictable love story. The novel starts out pretty intense and with some surprising twists but the further it progresses the more it levels out to a story with happy end.
    An extra star for the excellent narration: well done!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    June Rowlett, TX, United States 02-09-13
    June Rowlett, TX, United States 02-09-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    103
    10
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    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
    7
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    54
    13
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    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
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    13
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    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 2011
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    29
    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
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