Our book club is on a summer break, so I’ve got plenty of time to read other books. I want to share with you a review of one of my summer reads: The Story of Beautiful Girl written by Rachel Simon.
The Story of Beautiful Girl – Summary
This is the summary I could read on Goodreads:
‘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.’
The Story of Beautiful Girl – My thoughts on this book
When I read the summary on the book cover (which is the same summary you can read above) I was attracted to this book immediately. Let me tell you a bit more about it!
In the beginning, the three main characters are introduced: Lynnie, the young white woman who can’t speak, Homan, the black deaf man, Martha, the elder woman who is left in charge of the baby.
All three characters are well worked out I think and I got into the story easily, having sympathy for all three. You feel their pain & love, their hope & desperation, their anger & delights, their power & impotence.
The first two thirds of the book I thought were really touching, but in my opinion the author lost her grip a bit in the last third. The writing became more ‘flat’, there was less depth in the story. The time jumps were too big, some things didn’t seem credible and you could predict from afar that the puzzle would fall into place.
But all in all, ‘The Story of Beautiful Girl’ is a very touching story which helps you see things through the eyes of the disabled. Apparently the writer has a disabled sister and that shows in her writing as you sense her knowledge about the subject.
This book makes you realize how things really were in institutions and even though I don’t live in America, I’m pretty sure things were the same here in Europe… The disabled were left on their own. Few caretakes really did take care. The people in the institutions weren’t challenged and their talents weren’t put to use. I’m so glad things have changed for the better!
Even though the latter part of the book was a bit disappointing compared to how it started off, don’t let that keep you from reading it. It’s a very touching and hopeful read!