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Archive 08-19 GR Discussions > Story of Beautiful Girl

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message 1: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2563 comments Mod
I loved this book and cant wait to start discussing it with everyone.
To start off though I'd love to hear your impressions of the book?

message 2: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2563 comments Mod
LOL okay let's try another approach - who has read or is reading this book?

message 3: by Kristen (new)

Kristen Hi Tera, I plan on starting it today. I won it as a First Reads giveaway. :)

message 4: by Mocha Girl (new)

Mocha Girl (mochagirl) | 6 comments I'm about 75% complete...

Nancy (Colorado) I plan on starting it tomorrow 7/17..... going to a baseball game soon :)

message 6: by Amy (new)

Amy Wishman Nalan I absolutely loved this book. I thought that Simon was so creative in how she wrote from Homan and Lynnie's perspectives, giving voices to the voiceless. The time that the story was set in is truly not that long ago, and yet I was so shocked about the conditions that were described. I can't wait to read others' thoughts.

message 7: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2563 comments Mod
Oh good I was worried it might have been too new for people to get their hands on.

So lets start with the point Amy brought up; conditions and treatment of those with disabilities. What was the most shocking? Did you learn anything? In what ways do you think we've progressed and haven't progressed in treatment for and of those with disabilitieS?

message 8: by Dimity (new)

Dimity | 87 comments I'm almost finished with it! ANd I have to confess that at about 50 pages in, I couldn't take it any longer and had to sneak a peek at the end :).

I think this was a very good book for me to read because I think I needed a lesson in empathy for people with developmental disabilities. I need to go off to beddy bye but I will come back tomorrow and address your questions Tera!

message 9: by Irene (new)

Irene | 4030 comments I have to confess that I completely forgot about this book discussion until I saw your post yesterday. I guess I got caught up in the Forsyte Saga chunky read and my in-person book group. But, I got my hands on the book yesterday and will begin to read. I will join the discussion as I can. So sorry.

message 10: by Dimity (new)

Dimity | 87 comments I was expecting to be MORE shocked by the conditions at the School than I was. But I think Simon wrote the book more to illustrate that the School's residents were human beings than to "shock and awe" her readership with descriptions of brutality. I'm sure there are a million nonfiction books out there that go into great depth about the awful institutional conditions.

I found myself a bit frustrated by the last few chapters. On the one hand, I think it got rather saccharine and implausible. But on the other hand, I would have been annoyed if it had ended any other way (especially after reading her postscript).

message 11: by Amy (new)

Amy Wishman Nalan I agree that the conditions at the School were appalling, as is the of the "out of sight, out of mind" mentality that led to such institutions being formed. I think that even today that individuals with disabilities are still segregated in more subtle ways..they are more likely to be involved with the criminal justice system, more likely to be unemployed or under-employed, more likely to live at or below the povery level. We may not have county farms or schools like we did in the time of the book, but there are still barriers that make it difficult for individuals with disabilities to fully integrate into society.

message 12: by Lois (last edited Jul 17, 2011 09:59AM) (new)

Lois | 71 comments I got on the waiting list at my library for this book, and was very pleased that the book came in before the start of this discussion (usually I don't get hold of the book until way after the discussion is over). I actually finished the book a couple of days ago, so I get to participate for a change!
I agree that the last few chapters seemed unlikely. But the book was so good as a whole, and since finishing it I find myself mulling over parts of it while doing other things, which is one of my measures of a good book.
I would guess that one could still find institutions with the conditions described in this book, although I don't have any direct knowledge. One of the frustrating things about our society (and government) is the swell and fading of support for any one thing. There was a groundswell of support for improvements back in the 70s, but I would guess that with changes in fiscal conditions, people in government and just the tendency in all of us to move on to new concerns, conditions have gotten worse since then.

message 13: by Lois (new)

Lois | 71 comments Amy wrote: "I agree that the conditions at the School were appalling, as is the of the "out of sight, out of mind" mentality that led to such institutions being formed. I think that even today that individual..."

I so agree that there are still barriers that make it difficult for individuals with disabilities to fully integrate into society. And I think that an important barrier is communication difficulties. It's probably no coincidence that both of the main characters have big speech and hearing problems. And no coincidence that overcoming those problems made such a big difference in their lives.

**SPOILER** I wished the author included more about Homan's life after he learned that there was such a thing as a universal sign language. I think in the book the next time we encounter Homan (after he meets back up with Sam) is in the lighthouse. I wanted to know more about his journey during those years.

message 14: by Kristen (new)

Kristen (girlmomreads) I just started reading it last night but have pretty much only put it down to sleep! So far I am really enjoying it. I like the depth in which Simon goes into the family life of leading up to their decision to put Lynnie into "The School." I think it really adds to the story for us as readers. I can already tell though that this is going to be one of those books that tugs at my heart.

message 15: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2563 comments Mod
We've talked a bit about the barriers that exist for those with disabilities but what do you think about the way the characters lead their lives inspite of that?
Homan when in the church revival suddenly isn't so sure he wants to be "fixed".
Sam isn't interested in it either.
Liney, although never faced with being "fixed", seems quite happy with her life and independence when free from the institution.
What do you take away from that?

message 16: by Dimity (new)

Dimity | 87 comments This question makes me think of the debate over cochlear implants (which I am only remotely aware of so excuse my paraphrasing). The technology can help many (by no means all)deaf people hear but there's also a lot of backlash against it from within the deaf community, many of whom consider themselves a subset of society with different characteristics like any other subset based on racial, gender or age differences. They don't see themselves as needing to be fixed either.

Personally, I think that approach really resonates with me because I can think of all the subsets I identify with (female, mother, late 20s) and how'd I feel if someone in a different subset wanted me to fundamentally change myself...I'd be angry and hurt. I just want to live my life peacefully coexisting with everyone else in society and I think it's apparent Homan, Sam and Lynnie do too.

I also recognize that as a person with normal physical and intellectual abilities, I have a fair amount of privilege that the main characters don't which makes comparing say deafness to age a bit apples to oranges. But I think the solution to everyone feeling safe and happy in the world is acceptance of differences, whatever those differences are (apples and oranges are both fruit after all!).

message 17: by Irene (new)

Irene | 4030 comments I only made it through the first 50 pages yesterday. Negative steriotypes around those with disabilities which limit full functioning in society are certainly problems. Even when our economy was at its best a decade or so ago, unemployment for those with disabilities were 70%. At the same time, everyone with an ingrown toe nail seems to want to claim disability. And, any social responsibility for mutual support is drying up as money dries up. Do people want a free ride?

I was surprised that the school official could say to an educated professional, a retired teacher, that a cognitively impaired woman did not feel pain. Certainly, by the late 60s, no one really believed such nonsense. We may have warehoused those with cognative limitations and mental health problems. We still warehouse those disabled due to old age. But, if there is no one to advocate for someone, than there is no money. And, in the absence of money and advocacy, the result is warehousing.

By the way, are people aware of L'Arche? It is a fantastic model for group living with people with cognative disabilities that celebrates full dignity of every person.

Although I am not far into this book, I am finding the internal language and insights of Lynnie to be inconsistant with her background. I would not expect this vocabulary or reasoning from someone who is described as having significant impairment, who has not used language for her entire adult life, who has had no real peer interaction and little chance for developing at a normal social rate. I am disconnecting from her early in this book because I am not finding her realistically drawn.

message 18: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2563 comments Mod
Adding some bio information

Rachel Simon was born in 1959 in Newark, New Jersey. She was the second child of four. Her younger sister by only eleven months, Beth, is mentally disabled, which led Simon to write Riding the Bus with My Sister. At the age of eight, Simon’s father left her mother for an English professor who worked at the same college at which he taught. Years later, her mother became involved with an abusive con artist, whom she later married. Simon, her older sister, and younger brother all moved out, leaving Beth with their mother. Eventually, Beth came to live with their father where Simon and their brother lived. These events resulted in a falling out of six years between Simon and her mother.

Simon attended Solebury School, a boarding school in New Hope, starting at age 16. She then studied anthropology at Bryn Mawr College. After she graduated, she worked in various jobs, including paralegal, administrative assistant, and research supervisor for a television study. At 26-years-old she enrolled in a graduate program for creative writing.

After getting her degree in creative writing, Simon began teaching private creative writing classes. Later she took a job coordinating literary events at a Barnes & Noble in Princeton, New Jersey. She also began writing commentaries in The Philadelphia Inquirer and authored well-known books, such as The Magic Touch, The Writer’s Survival Guide, and Riding the Bus with My Sister. The Magic Touch, as described by the New York Times, is about a woman who is able to heal “the spiritually and physically wounded through sex.” After the woman realizes her gift, she sets out to save lost souls. The Magic Touch isn’t just an adult fairy tale; it also includes satire of real life with characters, who share resemblances to Dan Quayle and John Wayne Gacy, the serial killer, and theological contemplation of whether God or the devil really exists. The Magic Touch was hailed by Publishers Weekly as being unpredictable and inventive, with “a slam-bang finish.” Valerie Sayers, in a book review published in the New York Times, said, “Rachel Simon is a sharp, expansive satirist, and The Magic Touch is an auspicious debut.” But others criticized her first novel as having an implausible setting. Kirkus Reviews said of the novel: “...despite its heavy themes...the novel never gets any more than ankle-deep.”

A couple of years later, Simon wrote The Writer’s Survival Guide. Unfortunately, the book didn’t become very well-known. Simon, then, developed writer’s block for several years. Eventually, she was inspired to write Riding the Bus with My Sister, which gained national recognition. Riding the Bus with My Sister is an autobiography of sorts. It describes the events of one year that Simon spent riding the public buses of a small Pennsylvania city with her mentally disabled sister, Beth. Beth had decided years before this to spend her days on the public buses with the drivers and passengers, who became her friends, instead of looking for a job like her family had wanted. After riding the buses with Beth one day for a commentary on her sister’s unique activities, Beth invited Simon to ride with her for a year. Simon was then inspired to write a novel about her life and the struggles she encountered having a mentally disabled sister. Riding the Bus with My Sister switches between the events that take place throughout the year and Simon’s family’s past. Simon covers the many troubling events in her life and uses these to try and explain how she became who she is. Riding the Bus with My Sister received nothing but praise. June Pulliam called the novel “absorbing and honest.” Publishers Weekly described Riding the Bus with My Sister a “perceptive, uplifting chronicle.” The novel went on to win the School Library Journal Best Nonfiction Award and the Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award. Riding the Bus with My Sister was also adapted into a Hallmark movie starring Rosie O’Donnell and Andie MacDowell.

Even though the popularity of Riding the Bus with My Sister put Rachel Simon in the limelight, not much has changed. She continues to teach creative writing classes both privately and at Bryn Mawr College. She still writes a commentary for the Philadelphia Inquirer, though she is now a resident of Delaware. She is currently working on a follow-up book to The Writer’s Survival Guide. The change that has been made in her career is that she is now a sought-after guest speaker. She has spoken on the issues surrounding having a family member with a mental disability and how to be more accepting and open to others. The largest change in her life since Riding the Bus with My Sister was her renewed relationship with her sister, Beth.

message 19: by Irene (new)

Irene | 4030 comments Thank you for that background. I remember watching Riding The Bus With My Sister years ago. Did not realize that it was the same author until I picked up this novel and looked at the listing of other books by this author.

message 20: by Dimity (new)

Dimity | 87 comments Irene wrote: "I only made it through the first 50 pages yesterday. Negative steriotypes around those with disabilities which limit full functioning in society are certainly problems. Even when our economy was a..."

Irene, I also sensed what you mentioned in your last paragraph RE: Lynnie's inner thoughts seeming unrealistic. But I also wonder how the author could have written it a way that was authentic and respectful?

message 21: by Irene (new)

Irene | 4030 comments I don't know either, honestly. I had wondered how I wanted the inner voice to sound, and could not imagine it. But, then, I would not have tried to convey the internal workings of such a mind realizing that I have no experience by which I could credibly convey it. I have known people with limited cognative abilities, but can not begin to imagine their inner world.

message 22: by Irene (new)

Irene | 4030 comments I am now about half way through the book. I am having a very difficult time with the amount of improbability, especially around Martha. Really? a 70 year old woman wit no children has baby bottles, formula, diapers, etc, all the things to care for a baby? This woman who we are told over and over again lives a very isolated life, except for once a year holiday open houses, has this incredible network of people ready to have her as a house guest for unlimited periods of time? I don't care how popular a particular elementary school teacher is, no one is that deeply connected without regular effort beyond a general open house.

And, Buddy, he lives outside the institution until he is well into his teen years. He has friends, can drive, knows how to repair cars, etc., but he does not know what money is, just green rectangles with men's pictures on it? At the same time, even though he lost his hearing as a very young child, he still speaks with a slang and cadence associated with the African American community? Lynnie does not think in such slang, but sounds like the white, Jewish suburban girl that she started out to be.

With so much improbability, if you tell me that a UFO kidnaps the school's dog handling mean guys, I would not be surprised.

message 23: by Irene (new)

Irene | 4030 comments Brenda, I also could not get a handle on Lynnie's disability. There was muscle tone issues in early life causing her motor skills to be delayed. But, her physical agility and strength were uncompremised in adulthood. I can not identify any condition that mimics this set of symptoms. I think we are supposed to understand that her cognative abilities are still limited. She acts like a child in relation to Kate. She is not out of place among the patients in her ward. But, her internal dialogue is so inconsistent with her actions that it is difficult to maintain a picture of who she is.

message 24: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2563 comments Mod
I wasn't so hung up on Martha getting away with the baby. I mean really she wasn't even being searched for after the initial bit. It was her own fear that caused her to run more than anything else. The officials weren't looking for her and I wouldn't think twice about an older lady with a baby. Maybe she is the child's grandmother or nanny or whatever. I also think in small town communities like the one Martha taught in there is that sense of taking care of each other. This was their favorite teacher. If my favorite teacher came to me and asked for a favor I'd do anything in my power to help her.

I hadn't really questioned the inner dialogue of Lynnie until you brought it up. But at the time it didn't bother me. I'm not sure how the story could have been told otherwise.

Isn't there a favorite teacher that made such an impact on your life that you would help her/him out if they asked for it?

message 25: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2563 comments Mod
Is 70 that old? My grandmothers were both really active at 70.

Betty White
Dick Van Dyke
Jane Fonda
Barbara Walters
Maya Angelou
Willie Nelson
Tina Turner
Jane Goodall
Bill Cosby

Just a small list of over 70 and doing great

message 26: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2563 comments Mod
I guess I just passed it off as something she had wanted for so long and maybe that gave her the strength to do it.

Back to Homan for a bit was anyone surprised to read he was based on an actual person?

message 27: by Irene (new)

Irene | 4030 comments I can imagine a 70 year old assuming responsibility for a baby. I see grandparents taking over for many reasons often. But, I had a problem with the fact that that infant, ripped away from her mother immediately, slept the night through right away. That was one incredible baby. No sleepless nights with feedings every 4 hours. In a hotel oom with no stove and she sleeps for a day and a half without needing to leave to heat a bottle, without being up and up andup with a crying baby....

I certainly had terrific teachers, but none that I would want to move in with me for weeks or months at a time. My mother, recently retired, was one of those "favorite teachers" of most every student. But, none of them come by her house, call her on the phone or would expect to shelter her in her old age now that they are grown up.

I did not catch the fact that Homan was based on a real person, but it did not surprise me. Actually, I would not be surprised if Lynnie was also. It is not the outlines of these people's stories that I struggle with, but the details.

I am probably overly critical when it comes to "happily ever after" stories. I have little experience that tells me that the improbable does occur and things work out. I tend toward stories with some hard realism to them. So, my difficulty with this book is mostly my preference in books. For a "sweet" story, this is probably a good one. I simply don't tend to enjoy sweetness and light. Well, that probably tells you more about my personality than you wanted to know. Hahaha!

message 28: by Amy (new)

Amy Wishman Nalan Regarding Homan, after reading the author's notes at the end of the book, I remembered hearing of John Doe #24 previously, (Mary Chapin Carpenter wrote a song about him a number of years ago) and it made the story resonate with me more knowing that Simon had written an ending for him that John Doe #24 didn't have in real life. I find his story profoundly sad.

There is enough pain and "realism" in life, I enjoyed the happy ending. People have untapped abilities and strengths despite a disability, barrier, or diagnosis.

message 29: by Irene (new)

Irene | 4030 comments I finished this last night. Thank you all for your patience with my late start.

message 30: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2563 comments Mod
It's a love story at the heart of it. But I was thinking, if Homan had his hearing would you have a problem with him falling in love with a girl with cognitive disabilities?
Why aren't there more love stories with characters with disabilities?

message 31: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2563 comments Mod
Remember Homan went deaf and never learned ASL. He couldn't understand and no one could understand his signs and so he got tossed from system to system after he ran away until they finally dumped him off there. He lived there but had the reasoning to be able to do more of the work than the others so he was intrusted with more responsibilty and thus more freedoms.

message 32: by Trudy (new)

Trudy (goodreadscomtrudyspages) Dimity wrote: "This question makes me think of the debate over cochlear implants (which I am only remotely aware of so excuse my paraphrasing). The technology can help many (by no means all)deaf people hear but t..."

Excellent point. My daughter once asked me if there was a cure for autism, would I give it to my son. She said she hopes I wouldn't because he would become someone else,not the person we know and love. I definitely see her point. However, I would probably give him the cure anyway if it became available.

message 33: by Trudy (new)

Trudy (goodreadscomtrudyspages) Brenda (Lansdowne) wrote: "I think for me it was her age. It was kind of improbable that she would age and be able to handle it, and what happened to her once she died. Wasn't her new husband her age and now he had a 14-ye..."

I was not at all surprised that she recieved so much help and support from her former students. A beloved teacher becomes like a cherished family member to students.

message 34: by Irene (new)

Irene | 4030 comments Wasn't Homan significantly older than Lynnie? I got the impression that he was institutionalized in the 40s. He was picked up by the police who found him in a back alley, by a dumpster, making odd noises as he regarded his scrufy image in a piece of metal. The judge decided that he did not have the ability to be held morally accountable. It is never clear if he was assumed to be stupid or insane (MH and MR were often clumped together back then) and if the assumption of his problem was due to assumptions about his lack of communication, his race, the behavior he was observed doing or a combination. I got the impression that he was in his late 30s, so institutionalized for about 20 years by the time the story begins. Falling in love/lust with a female patient would seem realistic when there are no other options and you have a normal sex drive. The sustaining of that love over so many years seemed less realistic to me. And, Lynnie's abilities seemed quite normal. I could not figure out why she or Doreen needed supervision after the institution is closed. Doreen must be literate if she can deliver mail to such a large institution successfully.

The book was so improbable that an interracial relationship did not surprise me. It seemed to be just one more sweet element. All are capable of loving, despite the assumptions we make about disabilities, age, or race. The book never developed the race element at all,so I figured it was rather unimportant as a theme.

message 35: by Irene (new)

Irene | 4030 comments Brenda, I got the impression that the author, early in the creative process, wanted to communicate how these supposed disabled people, had the greater ability to see and love each other without the blinders of race limiting their perceptions, something that so-called normal people could not do. But, as the story developed, never had the time in the book to work with that issue,so just left it for the reader to gush at on their own.

message 36: by Sandra (new)

Sandra (sandee) | 328 comments the novel was wonderful, it was hard to get into because I have spent the last 13 years working with children and adults with special needs.

message 37: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2563 comments Mod
help me think of other books that had characters that had disabilities as a main or near main character. I'm having a hard time thinking of any.

message 39: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2563 comments Mod
any love stories?

message 40: by Dimity (new)

Dimity | 87 comments Well, I would consider Flowers for Algernon as a love story.

But I read it 10+ years ago and don't really remember how they handle the character's disability and if it would be considered a sensitive portrayal these days (I think it's originally from the 1970s).

message 41: by Nancy (Colorado) (new)

Nancy (Colorado) Just finished our book about "Beautiful Girl" and I enjoyed the beginning and by the end was thinking how unlikey the events would have ocurred. Not a bad read but noty a great read, either. I have already read If I Saty but did get the sequel (Where She Went) from the library. Happy reading, everyone!

message 42: by Dimity (new)

Dimity | 87 comments Nancy (Colorado) wrote: "Just finished our book about "Beautiful Girl" and I enjoyed the beginning and by the end was thinking how unlikey the events would have ocurred. Not a bad read but noty a great read, either. I ha..."

Nancy, I feel the same way. I'm having a hard time writing a review/rating this book. I think it got unrealistic but I also think I understand why it got that way and I still think it's an unique book for its subject matter. If it were about members of a different population, it'd be a 2 star read for me no question but I go back and forth if 2 stars is really fair for this book.

message 43: by Nancy (Colorado) (new)

Nancy (Colorado) Dimity wrote: "Nancy (Colorado) wrote: "Just finished our book about "Beautiful Girl" and I enjoyed the beginning and by the end was thinking how unlikey the events would have ocurred. Not a bad read but noty a ..."

I hear you......I gave it 3 stars because the subject matter was delicate and handled with "grace." I would have liked to have more about Julia and her troubled teen years to her being a mother.........kind of a big gap there!

message 44: by Irene (new)

Irene | 4030 comments Dimity, Can I ask why the subject matter makes you willing to accept less plausibility in the story? Why would there be no question of a lesser rating had the characters been different, but not so certain given the subject of this book? I am having an opposite reaction. Because the primary characters have physical and cognative disabilities, I am more frustrated by the unlikely events. To me, the underlying message is that we can not expect those with limitations to succeed in the real world, so we have to create a fantasy world in order to allow them to have something approaching a successful life. It is so hard to find literature that depicts people with physical limitations in a way that is not sentamental or unrealistically heroic. Why can't a deaf, paralysed or blind character just marry, have kids, work in a job that does not involve helping other disabled people , get divorced, and in every other way, liv as the rest of the world lives. That is one thing I loved about the old TV show, West Wing. It showed a deaf woman in a professional position that did not gush over her "over coming" her "disability". She simply was a compitent, powerful, professional. We need more of that.

message 45: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2563 comments Mod
I think it was hard for me to remember that Lynnie had cognitive impairments because she only seemed limited by the place where she was being kept. Her inner dialogue and activites didn't remind me of that and after she was out even less so.
Homan was deaf but it seemed to me he was more a victim of circumstances having never learned ASL and being on his own and being African American in the 50s (?) certainly didn't help him.
That is why I brought up his love for Lynnie. He was deaf true but if a man fell in love with a young mentally impaired girl and tried to run away with her I'd have issues with that. Maybe I shouldn't but I would. He has an advantage over her that can't be overcome. He could care for her but to fall in love with her I'm just not sure I ever got past that point. Making him deaf isn't an equalizer to me for what Lynnie's life was.
I knew that there were times I had to suspend belief to go with this story and I'm okay with that with this book and others if i care for the characters. I did care for all the characters in this book and I suppose that let me do so.
I do recognize that there were some huge gaps and pieces that didn't fit but I think I let it go because I wanted all of them to be happy.

message 46: by Irene (new)

Irene | 4030 comments Tera, I did not really stop to consider how I would feel about a man of average intellegence romancing a younger woman with intellectual impairments. I guess I saw them as two institutionalized folks that fell in love and allowed the setting to be the equalizer. I wonder if I would have felt different had Homan not been deaf. Am I guilty of placing limits on him not written into the story? Are there prejudices in my thinking that I do not admit? I need to think about that. It did occur to me at one point, near the end, that we had two people with very different abilities cognatively, but by that point, I had given up on making sense of the story.

message 47: by Dimity (new)

Dimity | 87 comments Irene, I guess I didn't really see the point you made about the message being people with disabilities only able to succeed in a fantasy world when I read this book. I think the plot is implausible but not really any more implausible than a lot of other books I read. Books like this are always on the fence for me and it's normally "something extra" that puts it over the edge star-wise. For example, I found another recent groupread The Postmistress to be similarly unrealistic but I gave it 3 stars instead of 2 because I loved the author's prose. So for me, the story was a bit lacking with this one, but I really liked that the characters come from a population that is rarely addressed in literature. It's also a little hard for me to gripe about the ending after reading the endnotes about the real person Homan was based the author, I feel a strong desire for this tragedy to somehow be redeemed, if even through imagination. Like Tera, I just wanted them all to be happy in the end, I suppose.

The whole Lynnie/Homan relationship being unequal never really occurred to me either. They both were largely unable to communicate with the outside world so I think that fact made me see them as equally lonely. I think the author's handling of it also made me not really think about that; she portrayed their relationship as being innocent and romantic and completely of Lynnie's consent.

I think this is the best groupread discussion I've participated in COL! My mind is really getting a good workout here.

message 48: by Lauren (new)

Lauren | 1 comments Really enjoying the discussion here everyone. I liked the book overall - I agree with Dimity that the institution part wasn't as shocking as I would have expected ... guess I had Shutter Island in my head or something. The one part of the book I wasn't crazy about was the fact that there were so many characters ... I didn't think either of the characters were really developed enough.

message 49: by Rachel (new)

Rachel (wolfewoman) | 24 comments I liked this book even though I thought the ending was a bit simplistic and magical. But the author did have many references to God as Artist woven throughout the book, and it seemed to me that the two main characters experiences after they were seperated enabled them to have a much stronger and independent life when they got back together. I don't know that they would have been that independent if they had escaped since they wouldn't have had the training and help. I also didn't have a problem with Homan being older than Lynnie-it seemed that they were both unable to truely communicate with anyone but each other in a very special way.
I did have a problem with the ending, and I've had the same problem with several books lately. Basically, the book gets you involved with these characters and then the author doesn't seem to know how to end the book. So the ending seems very choppy and disconnected, sometimes with a future flashforward to wrap things up, which few writers can do well enough to make it seem fully integrated with the previous story instead of an add on.
As far as a book with a romance - Tim TIM.

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