Monday, July 11, 2011

The Story of Beautiful Girl review

In 1968 a white woman and a black man show up on the doorstep of Martha, a widow content in her quiet, hermit-like ways. She skeptically lets them in, though wary of how the strange pair is acting, and then spends the next two decades raising the baby they hid in her attic. 

Lynnie, the baby's mother, dealing with what appears to be a developmental disability, ends up back at The School for the Incurable and Feebleminded, while the love of her life, Homan is on the run, deaf, unsure of where he is going or if he will even survive.  

Told in alternating chapters by Martha, Lynnie, Homan, and Kate, a nurse at the School, the story is not simply one of a baby girl, but also a telling of the horror of institutions during that period in our country's history, of how no one truly understood the disabled and how to best assist them, and of the power of love above all. 

From the first pages I fell in love with the story and with Rachel Simon's writing. I had never experienced her books before and I knew I would totally connect with Martha after just a few sentences. The setting and descriptions of other minor details placed me right where each character was and had me experiencing what they were experiencing. 

I did find that the book dragged a bit in the middle, becoming slow in plot development and where the characters "went." I also had a hard time with Homan's portion of the book as Simon wrote it from the perspective of a deaf man that had never truly learned to communicate. Definitely a feat to write, but also, at times, a tad hard to understand. I found myself having to reread his chapters, sometimes more than a couple of times to get exactly what he was thinking/doing/believing. 

I absolutely ADORE the cover and the writing expands on the beauty we first see in that silhouette. Despite the few slow portions and the difficulty I had with Homan's character, I truly enjoyed my reading of the book and the thinking the author made me do. I don't have a disabled person directly in my life, so I don't often think about how a person may or may not be treated based on whether or not they have a disability. She opened my eyes, while weaving a thought-provoking and lovely novel.

The Story of Beautiful Girl
Rachel Simon
352 pages
Adult Fiction
Grand Central Publishing
May 2011
Library Copy


Caroline Starr Rose said...

I am so interested in this book!

Kailana said...

This book looks good!