Story of Beautiful Girl, The

Simon, Rachel

  15 Reviews

In 1960s Pennsylvania, the only way inmates Lynnie and Homan can ensure Lynnie's unborn child is not incarcerated in "The School for the Incurable and the Feebleminded", is to flee. While Lynnie finds herself back in the institution, Homan escapes and baby Julia is raised far from the reach of the authorities. As societal attitudes begin to change, freedoms are granted and life for the residents with disabilities starts to improve, but where are Homan and Julia?

An insightful examination of institutional care and the unenviable decisions made on behalf of others. An uplifting and rewarding read. [Larger font]

Comments from Groups

Members found it well written and an enjoyable read, and it lead to an interesting discussion. Whakatane 005

We all loved this book! It generated a lot of discussion on many different themes, including race, intellectual disabilities, parenting, lost opportunities and remorse. One or two holes in the plot but these also helped to generate good discussion. Auckland 255

Our group enjoyed this book - it was warmly and gently written. It did get slow in the middle and the cast of characters was overwhelming....especially if you read the book in small chunks over time. The ending was unbelievably 'happy', and the way the connections were made and the puzzles resolved a little complex. Still, life is chaotic and random! Wellington 018

Most enjoyed the book, although one felt it was far-fetched and depressing. We agreed that things have changed for the better since that era. The author certainly knew and understood the world of the disabled. Carterton 001

We thoroughly enjoyed this book - a page-turning story with well drawn characters and a very important message re the care of the disabled, especially the mentally handicapped. Discussion was enthusiastic - we can warmly recommend 'The Story of Beautiful Girl'. Whangarei 004

Everyone absolutely loved the book. For one member, who has adopted a little girl with learning disabilities, it was particularly moving. We discussed the horrors of institutionalised care, and how attitudes have changed. It was a very beautiful book. Queenstown 010



Loved it!
A really sweet story enjoyed by all.
A fairytale with a happy ending. Stimulated extensive discussion on the care of the mentally disabled.
AUCK 050
We thought Rachel Simon had good insight into people with disabilities, and the basic idea behind the plot had merit, but we don't think she is a great author. There were too many gaps in the story and too many unbelievable details.
CULV 001
This book was popular with the whole group - especially with a lot of the story coming from the handicapped characters. Very well-written but for some it was a bit drawn out at the end. On the whole a page turner, and an interesting and different theme.
Most members of the group enjoyed this book.
NELS 031
A nice easy read; we thought the conclusion came about too quickly, and was a bit too predictable, but the outcome was what we all wanted. It was a great insight to how conditions were for handicapped people in many institutions, and society's perception of them.
A relevant topic for today, about the neurally diverse. We did all enjoy a happy ending, and thought it would make a good movie.
NELS 027
All enjoyed. Some found it deeply sad! Some found the writing style very light for the heavy subject. A very quick happy ending took us all by surprise. Several members are looking to read more by the author.
AUCK 271
We found this book a very interesting slant on people with special needs. An excellent book, very thought provoking and well-written.
TAUR 036
Fab, Fab, Fab!! Everyone read this book ( a first for our group) and everyone raved about it. Poignant, sad, funny and joyful.
The book created a lot of discussion about institutions in our local communities and the miserable lives of the people who've had to find their own way since they were closed. We all enjoyed the book and the insight the author showed for the different characters. They were likeable, and we enjoyed the ending.
All of the group enjoyed this book. The characters were well-written. The story was well constructed.
Not a cheerful read, but interesting and well-written. Group members with experience of homes for intellectually disabled people felt it was an accurate portrait of what they were like at that time.
We all enjoyed this book. Insightful and beautifully written, its storyline an assortment of characters who kept us all enthralled. A happy ending for readers, as well as an illuminating revelation of the lives that some poor souls were condemned to. Very good questions and discussion.