Sunday, 11 March 2012

Book review of The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon

This captivating book follows the story of Lynnie, Homan and Martha from 1968 in Pennsylvania to 2011.
Lynnie , a young woman with an intellectual disability, and Homan, a deaf man with only sign language to guide him, make a desperate escape from the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded for just long enough to leave Lynnie’s newborn baby with Martha, a retired school teacher. Lynnie is quickly captured and returned to The School, but Homan, presumed dead, makes his escape.
Each chapter concentrates on one character, building up an intricate description of each of their lives. There is Kate, who works at The School and her unfailing support for Lynnie, Homan’s constant search for Lynnie (his Beautiful Girl) and her baby, and his belief that he will find her. Martha, who takes in a stranger’s baby and honours her promise to “Hide her.” and of course Lynnie, who is the “Beautiful Girl”.
I loved the way the story was written and found the characters incredibly believable. Rachel Simon has obviously researched her facts very thoroughly- the end notes give her reasons for writing the book. The fact that institutions such as The School existed until such recent times was horrifying and the way that children, babies and adults were kept there was deeply upsetting.
I read this book within a week as I quickly found myself swept along by events and wanted to find out if they would ever be reunited.

I would recommend this book without hesitation. It was a beautiful story. Moving at times, tragic in parts, uplifting and informative.

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