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The Story of Beautiful Girl

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  16,899 ratings  ·  2,994 reviews
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- ...more
Hardcover, 346 pages
Published May 4th 2011 by Grand Central Publishing (first published 2011)
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Community Reviews

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Jessica Bell
I don't think I can articulate how wonderful this book is without sounding corny. I cried. From happiness and melancholy and a deep, yet satisfying sadness. This is a remarkable story. Beyond remarkable. If only I could give it six stars. No review is going to do this book justice so just read it. Though, Janice Phelps Williams' comes as close as one could possibly get. If you want to read it, go here:

I'm just going to leave you with my favorite line from
I picked up a stinky read. I can't say this book was positively stinky, because it started off with great intensity and a plot with a very interesting premise. Secondly, I cannot say it was too stinky because I read it from cover to cover. I try very hard to finish anything I select. My three stars are solely based on the premise of the plot and the enthralling beginning.

I was pulled in until about half-way through and then it turned like a banana left on a sunny window sill. Bring on the stink
Kristin Cruz
I blame Rachel Simon. I blame her for the bags under my eyes and the toothpicks holding up my eyelids. And, it's all because of this book, The Story of Beautiful Girl. 3 nights this week it's had me just one more paging myself into a 2:30 am bedtime. Y'all, I have to tell you about this book. Editorial reviews describe this book as an enthralling or unlikely love story but it is so much more. In fact, by calling this book a love story, I think the editors do it a disservice and turn away a bunch ...more
I am notoriously stingy giving out 5 stars.
In my mind, a book deserving of "my" 5 stars (I realize people rate books on different merits) must not only be well-written, but it must have some lasting impact on me. And perhaps even leave me changed somehow.

Within the first 30 pages of this book, I realized it was going to for sure get 4 stars. But as the story moved forward, as the characters became more real, as the days segued into years and then decades, I felt my own frustrations linked with t
This is a sentimental story ready made for a Life Time channel movie. The primary characters are supposed to steal your heart from the opening pages. There is a cognitively impaired young woman who has spent most of her life warehoused in a grossly substandard institution after being abandoned there by a family in the 1950s who does not know what to do with this handicapped 9 year old. There is a young man isolated because he is a deaf mute who is confined to the same institution as a teen who w ...more
As soon as I finished this book, I wanted to start it all over again.

The Story of Beautiful Girl surpasses most of what I've read this year. Great characters who seemed so real, it felt like I'd met them... Simon gives us an eye into their souls. Place was done so well that it seemed like being in a movie. I cannot remember when a book passage gave me goose bumps and this happened more than once here. Enough said: I LOVED this book! Rachel Simon is definitely one to keep an eye on... please keep
I really enjoyed Rachel Simon's memoir 'Riding the Bus with My Sister' and was excited to see she had recently published a novel. When I read what the novel was about, I thought Simon would be able to bring a special kind of insight to the story because of her own relationship with her sister who has a developmental disability.

The story opens after Lynnie and Buddy escape from the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded. Lynnie has a developmental disability and Buddy is deaf. While on the run
I'm beginning to think I'm one of the fussiest readers ever. I'm being generous with giving this 3 stars, because I really struggled to finish this. The book can be cut in half, the first half creating a somewhat plausible storyline and the engaging me in the saga. The second half spun into a crazy quilt, seemingly arranged to bring about the Lifetime Movie ending.

There is no question that the warehousing of 'different' children was terrible in the past of this nation. And the author is to be pr
This book was really amazing, but it was also really hard for me to read. I have a sister 10 years younger than me with Downs syndrome and it was hard to not envision what her life could have been like if she'd been born in that time or if my parents were like Lynnie's. People who are "special" are just that and my sister has been the greatest blessing for our family. How some people do not see it that way is so ridiculous to me! Lynnie and Homan's story was so touching and captivating that I cr ...more
This book tells the story of Lynnie, Homan and Martha, whose lives are brought together suddenly. Lynnie and Homan are locked away in an institution, the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded. In love, Homan orchestrates their escape, and during their three days of freedom Lynnie gives birth to a baby girl. While on the run, they make their way to Martha's farm, and when the police and warders from The School arrive, they are recaptured - but not before Lynnie leaves the baby with Martha, as ...more
This is the same author as RIDING THE BUS WITH MY SISTER and BUILDING A HOME WITH MY HUSBAND. This one is fiction, though, while the others are both based upon her real life.

I regrettably have to say I preferred her nonfiction books. This was written somewhat vaguely and I thought the characters were a bit simplistic and two-dimensional. At times, the action also seemed slow, and I found myself bored and/or not looking forward to getting back to the book. I do admire what she was trying to do h
The Story Of Beautiful Girl is an enthralling love story with many obstacles in the way thwarting the lovers from being together for decades.

The story begins with Lynnie a young and beautiful disabled white woman with limited speech abilities and Homan, a deaf-mute African American man, who have escaped from the Pennsylvania State School of the Incurable and Feebleminded in the last 1960's. Lynnie is pregnant and it is imperative to the two that the baby not be born under those circumstances.

Janice Williams
Like waiting for a holiday, a vacation, or a very special event, anticipation is a big part of the pleasure and following along with Rachel Simon, via her blog and Facebook page, as she did a pre-release tour for her newest book, The Story of Beautiful Girl, helped get me through winter doldrums and kept the May release date firmly in my mind. I had read the online excerpt and was sure ...Beautiful Girl would become one of my favorite books. Titles that are on a special shelf; books by Amy Tan, ...more
I don't want to spoil anything ---(but if I could discuss this book with others who have read it---I would say more.

I'll just say.....Reading "The Story of A Beautiful Girl" felt like an intimate companion!

The Story of Beautiful Girl was a book I had been looking forward to for quite awhile. The story takes place in 1968 a time when people with disabilities were shut away in institutions forgotten by their families and the world.
On a stormy night in a small town in America a couple desperate and soaked to the skin knock on a strangers door. When Martha a retired schoolteacher answers their knock her world changes forever.
The couple at the door are Lynnie and Homan who have ran away from the School
I am sure I have read books that have started out with a bang and then sort of fizzled. I felt this way about this book. While the premise was excellent, that of a mentally handicapped girl falling in love with a deaf boy, the book or mostly its characters did not ring true. It was of course heart breaking at times, but hard as I tried, I just could not get to know the characters or just even feel involved in their struggle and I am not sure why. Perhaps it was an awkwardness with their personna ...more
OK, I'll admit it. I bawled like a baby at the end of this book. But it's more than a moving story by a great storyteller, it has an extra dimension. I started this book because one of the reviewers on the jacket says, "I dare you to read the first twenty pages and not keep going." I haven't read a great book for a while, so I couldn't let that pass. Well, I did put it down, so Mary could sleep, but just once.

How to describe that extra dimension? As I get older, and as I care for Grammy, I'm und
Rose Mary Achey
In the late 1960’s a beautiful young developmental disabled woman is raped by one of the attendants in a musty closet of the Pennsylvania Residence for Gifted Children and Adults. This woman’s name is Lynnie, she is 22 years old and has spent the past 10 years living at “The School”.

Lynnie befriends a deaf African American man also a resident at “The School”, and they plot their escape. Lynnie is pregnant as a result of the rape and she has seen the horrors of babies who live at “The School”.

Four stars for subject matter, three stars for execution. This is an ambitious work of fiction. It explores the lives of a young woman with a developmental disability who is institutionalized by her family, and a young man who winds up in the same institution because of his deafness. It casts an unflinching gaze on the horrible practices within the institution. Those passages were excellent, and I think the book was at its best when stepping behind the curtains without moralizing.

It was obvious
This is one of my favorite books of 2011, and possibly one of the books that most impacted my thinking this year.

A beautiful novel of friendship and survival under the most dire of circumstances, it's a book that is both heart-wrenching and challenging of everything we may have thought we knew about our country's past dealings in the mental health system.

I was just captured from the first sentences of the book. The characters are magnificent in their rawness and their abilities to rise above wha
Susan Bright
I absolutely loved this audio book. Once I started listening to it, I did not want to stop. Fortunately I was listening to it on a playaway so I could take it with me wherever I went. I listened to it in the car, I listened to it as I cooked. I went to sleep listening to it and when I woke up, after first rewinding it to the last part I remembered before drifting off to sleep, I continued listening to it. The Story of A Beautiful Girl is a beautiful, yet heart wrenching story and a wonderful aud ...more
Ellen Campbell
For 38 years I have been a parent of and advocate for a son with mental retardation; therefore, it was difficult for me to read this book without an inherent bias or personal connection. I am keenly aware of the abuses that were documented at state institutions and was intimately involved with the Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Citizens when the landmark PARC vs. the State of Pennsylvania concluded by shutting down Pennhurst, thus beginning the movement in our state toward the establishme ...more
I usually don't like books where I think 'this could never happen', but this book was an exception. I LOVED this book. I was entranced from the beginning when Buddy (aka Homan) and Lynnie showed up on Martha's doorstep with baby Julia. I couldn't wait to see what would happen with each character. Unlike other books I've read lately, each of the main characters was likeable in their own ways and had their own inner strength which was admirable.

I loved how everything in the book eventually came to
In the late 1960’s, before much was understood about emotional and physical handicaps and the difference they have to developmental handicaps our main character Lynnie was committed to a School for the Incurable and Feebleminded. It was not much of a school! Horrible things happened there but some good things too. Lynnie met Homan, an African-American deaf man. One stormy night Lynnie and Homan know they must try to escape, for the sake of Lynnie’s unborn child. The child no one at the “school” ...more
Melissa Crytzer Fry
Jul 23, 2011 Melissa Crytzer Fry rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: readers of literary women’s fiction
Shelves: wip-comps
This novel really gripped me from the first page. The story premise kept me reading because I simply had to find out more about these deeply troubled characters, their tragic lives, their current unfathomable circumstances and their futures.

Lynnie and Homan, residents from the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded, escape and Lynnie soon gives birth outside the school’s walls. When she is captured, Lynnie is forced to entrust a stranger with her newborn (officials from the School don't know
The Story of a Beautiful Girl started out well but then seemed to race to a conclusion...a conclusion that I found very far fetched and unbelievable.

How can a woman that has been challenged and institutionalized her entire life become completely functioning and independent at 50 years of age?

There were excessive gaps in the story that spanned decades. At one point we discover that Julia, Lynnie's daughter, who is living with Martha has become troublesome. While walking on the beach, Martha asks
OMG! What a story! I am so emotional right now that I don't really have the proper words to do this work justice. It was an amazing story (including the author's notes at the end). As a parent of a teenager with developemental disabilities, I cherish any opportunity to educate people about a rapidly growing segment of our population. My hope is that after reading this story, someone will look at people with disabilities as people who laugh, love, cry, hope, dream, and deserve to treated with dig ...more
Diane S.
I had only read to page 11 when I had the feeling that this book was going to be something special and quite possibly one of the best books I have read this year. So it was. I am usually a quick reader but when I like a book alot I tend to slow down quite a bit as I did with this book. One night changes the lives of all the characters, either directly or indirectly,and it is in turn heartbreaking, compassionate and joyful.
A beautifully written book about people living on the margins of society. Apart from the slightly religious parts and the whopping twist of fate, I enjoyed the story of Lynnie, Homan/No. 42, and Martha. I would recommend this book to people who love intricate stories and happy endings.
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Rachel Simon is the author of six books.

The Story of Beautiful Girl
The House On Teacher's Lane
Riding The Bus With My Sister
The Writer's Survival Guide
The Magic Touch
Little Nightmares Little Dreams

In 2005, Hallmark Hall of Fame adapted Riding The Bus With My Sister for a film by the same name. It starred Rosie O'Donnell as Rachel's sister Beth and Andie MacDowell as Rachel, and it was directed by A
More about Rachel Simon...
Riding the Bus with My Sister: A True Life Journey Building a Home with My Husband: A Journey Through the Renovation of Love The Writer's Survival Guide The Magic Touch: 2a Novel Little Nightmares, Little Dreams

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“A person comes into the world with a fist-and a grasp. Yes, we are built to fight one another, but also to embrace. How cleverly we are created.” 17 likes
“Silence made space for other people's words, which was important for those who needed to be listened to.” 14 likes
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