Monday, May 9, 2011

Cathy Says This Book "delivers on all levels."

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. 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.

Cathy says:
"The beauty of a great novel is a wonderful story well told, populated by interesting, richly imagined characters that leave the reader entertained, deeply moved, understanding more about the world, and maybe a little bit changed.  The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon delivers on all levels.

The novel opens in 1968 as Lynnie and Homan are running away from their "school", a state institution plagued by inadequate resources and many corrupt workers.  Lynnie has just given birth to a baby that is not Homan's.  Homan, called Number 42 by the institution, is black and deaf,   Lynnie is white and developmentally disabled, and the two have a deep love for each other.  After finding refuge in the home of an elderly widow, Lynnie is caught and brought back to the institution, Homan escapes, and Martha, the widow is left with a newborn girl.  The Story of Beautiful Girl follows these characters' lives over the course of many years; Homan on the run and cut off by his deafness and illiteracy, Lynnie at the "school", trying to survive her great losses, and Martha, renewed by her new life caring for Lynnie's daughter Julia, yet forced to do so in a web of lies.  They endure, they grow, even blossom as their lives and stories unfold.

Seeing the world through the eyes of Homan and Lynnie was a profound experience.  Seeing how we treated people with differences in the not too distant past was a horrifying reminder of how far we've come, yet it was also an education in how far we still have to go in respecting and embracing differences."

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