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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

31 Days of Good Books : Day 2 - The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon

Curled up in my favorite reading chair last winter, I opened this surprising novel and couldn't put it down.  In the late 60's, institutionalizing those with developmental disabilities was much more common.  The public was too willing to walk away from the most vulnerable of its members, and too often those in charge of these facilities had no respect for the humanity they were entrusted with.  This hardly sounds like the premise of a comfy read... and it wasn't that.  But it was good!

This was a story of change.  Lynnie, daughter of a comfortable white family, was placed in an institution as a young girl when her disabilities became clear to her family.  In their desire to see this as "best for her," they asked few questions and did little to supervise the care of their daughter.  Homan is a deaf African-American man who ends up in the same institution, because it's assumed he is similarly disabled.  They become very close, and when Lynnie is ready to give birth to a child conceived in an act of rape... Homan breaks her out and they run.

With no words spoken, they find sanctuary at the home of a lonely widow on a dark night, but the authorities track them and recapture the young woman.  Homan escapes, and a baby girl is left in the care of Martha, the widow, who spends the rest of the little girl's childhood moving about to keep the child hidden - trying to honor the only two words Lynnie spoke to her before being taken away... "Hide her!" 

Lynnie waits for Homan to rescue her, but through a series of events Homan ends up on the other side of the country - unable to find his way back.  As unlikely as it seems, it will have to be Lynnie who finds her way to him.

This novel is about more than their love story. It's about a teacher that cares, a public that needs informed, and what justice looked like at that time in our history.

Rachel Simon shares with the reader an experience of longing and enduring, an unexpected respite from loneliness, the beauty of selflessness, and a miraculous capacity for love.

4 stars

31 Days of... is a project of The Nester.  It began with 7 bloggers a couple years ago and this year has over 1000 participants.

Other blogs participating in the 31 Days project...

31 Days of Noticing Fall (Connections to Fall and all that they symbolically represent to our souls.)
31 Days To Fall In Love With Fall (AND Blog Design Giveaway!)
31 Days of Journaling Prompts

If you're blogging on this topic, please leave a link in the comments so I can stop by and visit.

What I learned from this book... I was reminded that just because we refuse to look at something, doesn't mean it will cease to be cruel... and as a human being... I'm required to look.  What book has brought that message to you?


  1. Amy, I was reading this book about the same time as you! "I'm required to look" What a great line. Yes we are. Even when I don't want to.

  2. I was disappointed that Ms. Simon hasn't written another novel yet. I appreciate authors that use their powers for good. : )

    Thank you for stopping by!

    1. Hi Amy!
      I thought I'd return the visit! I don't always enjoy books that make me uncomfortable but I'm always glad that I read them and they made me stretch out of my comfort zone. Some of the books that have made the biggest impression on me were ones just like that. I'm going to add this one to my list : )

  3. This sounds like a very powerful book, in more ways than one!

  4. This book totally sounds like something I would enjoy reading. I am adding it to my always-growing list of books I want to read.

    Thank you for including a link to my blog on your post today. I'll be returning the favor on my post for tomorrow :)

  5. Hi Amy - I'm so excited about these reviews... This book sounds fantastic and I'm always adding must-reads to my list. I'm one of the 31 day-ers with a "book-ish" series! I found you yesterday, but couldn't link my site. Oh well! :) It's cardigan way {dot} com. Come visit!

  6. Hello Amy. I am definitely going to add this one to my list. There are so many books that have required me to look, one of which is The Other Hand by Chris Gleave which I reviewed on my blog a while back. Another was "We need to talk about Kevin" which is much more famous. I am looking forward to reading more of your reviews.

  7. Thank you, Tonya. I like your journaling prompts series! I found you, Katie and found your series lovely and smart!

    Thanks for sharing those books, Jan. I'm adding to my list. :-) I write a LOT about change, so I'm really looking forward to your 31 Days of Change!

  8. I randomly picked this book a year or two ago, I thought it was so powerful!

    1. It was an unusual book, and I like to find those every once in awhile. :-)