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  • ISBN-13: 9780446574464
  • ISBN-10: 0446574465


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Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2011-02-21
  • Reviewer: Staff

In this enthralling love story, Lynnie, a young white developmentally disabled woman with limited speech, and Homan, a deaf African-American man, meet at the Pennsylvania State School for the Incurable and Feebleminded in the late 1960s. Despite strict rules, poor conditions, an abusive staff, and the couple's lack of language, Lynnie and Homan share tender moments. After their escape, a few days of freedom not only enables the secretly pregnant Lynnie to give birth outside the walls of the corrupt institution, it also secures the couple's admiration for one another. Fears of discovery force them to leave the baby in the hands of a nurturing widow, Martha Zimmer. Soon after, the school's staff apprehend Lynnie, while Homan flees. Although their stories diverge and unfold independently of one another, memories of their short time together sustain them for more than 40 years as they develop the confidence to eventually parent, learn to sign and speak, and finally, reunite. Simon (Riding the Bus with My Sister) who grew up with a developmentally disabled sister, has written an enormously affecting read, and provided sensitive insight into a complex world often dismissed by the "abled." (May)

 
BookPage Reviews

A seemingly impossible love story

It all begins with the impossible—a white woman and an African-American man are in love in 1968. But that’s not the only obstacle in The Story of Beautiful Girl: Lynnie and Homan met as patients at the abusive Pennsylvania State School for the Incurable and Feebleminded. Lynnie has a developmental disability, which makes speech nearly impossible, and Homan is deaf, but their disabilities don’t keep them from falling deeply in love—and trying to create a family.

After escaping from the state school and giving birth to a baby girl in widow Martha Zimmer’s barn, Lynnie is caught by the institution’s staff and dragged back to the corrupt school, leaving the child in the widow’s care. Homan flees, and suddenly the little family’s chance for happiness seems to vanish. But Lynnie, Homan, Martha and baby Julia—along with social worker Kate—have a permanent connection that leads them on a 40-year journey to repair what has been broken. Each chapter is told from a different character’s perspective, and we watch as the individuals find the confidence to somehow make their way back to each other.

The Story of Beautiful Girl makes a beeline for the heartstrings in capturing a seemingly impossible love story—and the secret pact that makes it so unforgettable.

Rachel Simon, who gained critical acclaim for her best-selling memoir Riding the Bus with My Sister, graces readers with an illuminating and affecting view into a unique and misunderstood love.

 
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