“The Story of Beautiful Girl” by Rachel Simon is a book about Lynnie, a girl with a developmental disability, and Homan, an African American man who is deaf. It is 1968, and on a rainy evening, Lynnie and Homan show up at Martha’s farm, with a baby.
When the police come to take Lynnie and Homan back to the institution where they are forced to live, Lynnie tells Martha, an older widow, to “hide her,” meaning to hide the baby. Lynnie is taken back to the institution, Homan escapes and is on the run, and Martha proceeds to go into hiding with this newborn baby girl.
The story progresses through each of their lives, describing their individual struggles and their desires to keep each other safe, with their lives intertwining no matter what their separate locations are.
I loved “The Story of Beautiful Girl” by Rachel Simon for a more than a few reasons. Simon interweaves the lives of Homan, Lynnie, Martha, and the baby in amazing ways, leaving me breathless (not to mention crying) with happiness and surprise throughout the end of the novel.
I also was intrigued by the information about the institution where Lynnie stayed and Homan was able to escape from. The injustices that occurred there during the story, the lack of cleanliness, the lack of privacy and safety that was part of daily life, was disgusting. I’m interested in doing some research to see how close the institutional life that Lynnie experienced was to real life in the 60’s and 70’s.
I have to say that it blows my mind that someone like Homan, who was perfectly capable and able to live a complete life, but possessed the disability of being deaf, was housed in an institution mainly due to lack of understanding. Apparently, Homan’s fictional character was based on real situations. For instance, Anne Bolander’s “I Was #87” seems to be about how s a deaf child, she was misdiagnosed as having a mental disorder and placed in an institution. I haven’t read the story, but it seems intriguing.
No matter what a person’s background or ability, I feel that this book helped to remind me that a little extra kindness and patience can go a long way.
Have you read a positive book about a person with a disability? Or have you had a positive experience that you’d like to share?