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The Story of Beautiful Girl

3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  20,427 Ratings  ·  3,337 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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Claudia Staude It is fictional - however, the author did a great deal of research of the Asylum system and has a sister who is "specially abled" and deals with life…moreIt is fictional - however, the author did a great deal of research of the Asylum system and has a sister who is "specially abled" and deals with life on her own. I highly recommend reading her nonfiction work, "Riding the Bus with My Sister". It is delightful and it is how I found this author.
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jessica Bell
Aug 01, 2011 Jessica Bell rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 10, 2012 Kata rated it liked it
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
May 11, 2011 Kristin Cruz rated it it was amazing
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
May 14, 2015 ❀Julie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library, audiobook
This was a beautiful and inspiring story about a couple in love who, along with a newborn baby girl, escape from an institution for the "incurable and feeble minded" back in 1968, and what follows up until 2011. It touched me on a personal level, so was at times a bit disturbing, as I cannot imagine my child being put in an institution back in those days. But it shows how far we have come in helping those in need and not leaving them to be forgotten or given up on, or even mistreated, and most i ...more
Jun 20, 2015 Suzanne rated it it was amazing
What a glorious story. Very special. Homan and Beautiful Girl are two souls separated by a horrible system of 'care' for the disabled. The author has a sister with a disability and this is evident from the insights, understanding and beautiful way the story is told. How she captured and described the most inner thoughts of the main characters is amazing, and I love the character Kate. This book was such a nice read, and still has me thinking.
Jul 31, 2011 Irene rated it it was ok
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
Aug 04, 2012 Donna rated it liked it
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
Dec 13, 2012 Gloria rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
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
Aug 26, 2011 Elyse rated it really liked it
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!

Mar 02, 2012 Debbi rated it it was amazing
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
Diane S ☔
May 16, 2011 Diane S ☔ rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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.
Jun 17, 2012 Dem rated it it was ok
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
Nov 21, 2011 Kara rated it really liked it
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
Sep 28, 2011 Laura rated it it was ok
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
Lynnie, a young white woman with a developmental disability, is thought of as "Beautiful Girl" in the mind of Homan, a black deaf man. They are both institutionalized in Pennsylvania in 1968 when they run away. Lynnie had been raped at the institution, and knows she has to get away to give her baby a chance when it's time to give birth. The couple get help from a retired widow, but Lynnie is captured by the authorities from the institution while Homan manages to escape into the woods. Lynnie ask ...more
Mar 11, 2013 Agatha rated it it was ok
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
Jul 16, 2014 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: whittemore-women
Apr 18, 2011 Heavensent1 rated it really liked it
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.

RoseMary Achey
Dec 26, 2011 RoseMary Achey rated it really liked it
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”.

May 13, 2013 Sarah rated it liked it
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
Janice Williams
May 04, 2011 Janice Williams rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary-fiction
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
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
May 05, 2015 Karen rated it really liked it
Beautiful story
Susan Bright
May 23, 2012 Susan Bright rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 21, 2011 Marialyce rated it it was ok
Shelves: may-2011
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
May 16, 2011 Mike rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 30, 2012 Cndy rated it really liked it
This book tells the untold story of living the life of those with disabilities, the inside of the institutions that housed them and the love that can be found behind those walls. The story spans 40 years which is the reason for only 4 stars. Each chapter gives voice to the different characters and what they're feeling and seeing. Remarkable tale of love, hope and the mysteries of society's misconceptions.
Jo Sorrell
Sep 10, 2012 Jo Sorrell rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing story that spans 44 years beginning in 1968, when the "feeble minded" were tossed away into institutions with horrible living situations. It is a love story but not one like you have ever read. When you start reading about Homan and Lynnie, be sure you have time to read as you will not want to put this book down.
Jul 17, 2011 Sally906 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: general-fiction
At the end of THE STORY OF BEAUTIFUL GIRL author Rachel Simon explains what the inspirations were for the story. There were three main ones. Firstly her young sister Beth is mentally disabled; secondly as a young teen Rachel watched TV as a journalist exposed the WillowbrookStateSchool showing horrible images about the conditions of the people incarcerated there. These images shamed the nation and brought about reform for the intellectually disabled. Finally Rachel read a book written by Dave Ba ...more
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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...

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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.” 23 likes
“There were two kinds of students who liked the library: those who devoured one book after another and those who savored the same book repeatedly. Now she understood those rereaders differently ... she realized it was not the rereading that led to fresh insights. It was the rereader-- because when a person is changing inside, there are inevitably new things to see.” 14 likes
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