The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon
Lynnie, a young white woman with a developmental disability, and Homan, an African American deaf man, escape an institution and show up at a widow’s home. But the couple is not alone – Lynnie has just given birth to a baby girl. When the authorities catch up to them that same night, Homan escapes into the darkness, and Lynnie is caught. But before she is forced back into the institution, she whispers two words to Martha: “Hide her.”
|In The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon, Lynnie, a young white woman with a developmental disability, and Homan, an African American deaf man, are locked away in an institution, the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded, and have been left to languish, forgotten. Deeply in love, they escape, and find refuge in the farmhouse of Martha, a retired schoolteacher and widow. But the couple is not alone – Lynnie has just given birth to a baby girl. When the authorities catch up to them that same night, Homan escapes into the darkness, and Lynnie is caught. But before she is forced back into the institution, she whispers two words to Martha: “Hide her.” And so begins the 40-year epic journey of Lynnie, Homan, Martha, and baby Julia – lives divided by seemingly insurmountable obstacles, yet drawn together by a secret pact and extraordinary love. From the book flap|
Book Club Ideas
Lynnie chose Martha’s house because of the mailbox, which was adorned with a lighthouse that had the head of a man. I found this lighthouse at the dollar store and I used a marker to make the face. A red feather, which floated down and landed between Lynnie’s and Homan’s chests as they kissed, could also be used in the decorations for a book club party for The Story of Beautiful Girl.
Buddy would give Lynnie feathers as a gift. A collection of feathers can be gathered together to make a bouquet. One of the characters liked to collect twigs that looked like letters and had a collection of twigs that spelled luv.
Every year Kate, an attendant at the institution, would celebrate the day Lynnie had her daughter with a party, which included cake and a new book. One of the books she received was The Little House.
Two beautifully happy songs mentioned in the book were “You are the Sunshine of my Life” and What a Wonderful World.” Here is a sampling of those songs.
Book Club Menu
For Lynnie’s party, Kate “brought the vanilla-frosted confection down from the window and pushed it across the desk. The flowers were all the colors Lynnie liked – blues and greens and reds and oranges. She inhaled the scent of the frosting, the wax on the candles, the chocolate hidden inside.”
For the cake, I used this Chocolate Cake Recipe (I love the sprinkling of the mini chocolate chips on the cake before baking) and Vanilla Frosting. The instructions for making the daisy can be found here.
Book Club Resources
Ratings at the time this post was published
|Goodreads: 3.9 stars (4958 ratings)|
|Amazon: 4.1 stars (78 ratings)|
|LibraryThing: 4.02 stars (32 ratings)|
|My Rating: 4 stars. This is an eye-opening novel about how those with disabilities were treated in the past. At the same, it is a wonderful love story between two people who found the thing they had each been missing in their lives – luv.|
- Do you think Rachel Simon did an accurate job in her portrayal of those with disabilities? Were the characters believable?
- Were you shocked to learn how those with disabilities were treated in the past? Do you think some of that still occurs today?
- After reading The Story of Beautiful Girl, do you have a better understanding of those with disabilities? Did it motivate you to reach out to those with a disability?
- Despite the attendants at the school thinking their residents couldn’t feel pain and couldn’t understand or learn anything, how did the actions of Lynnie and Homan prove them wrong?
- What do you think motivated Martha to keep Linnie’s baby, despite having to leave everything behind and run from authorities? What would you have done in that situation?
- Should Martha have told Julia the truth about her parents sooner? Did Martha’s decision to wait to tell her protect Julia or did it harm her?
- Despite their disabilities, Linnie and Homan show that they can contribute wonderful things to the world. What other messages do you think Rachel Simon was trying to get across in this novel?
- Can you pick out a passage that particularly moved you? Why did this particular passage speak to you?
- Did you enjoy the ending of the novel? Did it leave unanswered questions or was it neatly wrapped up – perhaps too neatly?
- How awesome was Kate? (Obviously a leading question, but, really, how awesome was she!?)
Purchase The Story of Beautiful Girl at your favorite bookseller
|Rachel Simon (born 1959 in Newark, New Jersey) is an American author of both fiction and non-fiction. Her six books include the 2011 novel The Story of Beautiful Girl, which was her first New York Times Bestseller, and the 2002 memoir Riding The Bus With My Sister, which was a national bestseller. Her work has been adapted for film, television, radio, and stage.|
Other Works by Author and Recommended Reading
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