Friday Morning Bookclub

October 16, 2012

The Story Of Beautiful Girl: A Review By Nancy

Filed under: The Story of Beautful Girl — susanbright @ 1:46 pm
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The Friday Morning Bookclub read, and enjoyed, The Story of Beautiful Girl. The novel takes place in 1968 and the main characters are Lynnie, a developmentally delayed white woman of Jewish origin, Homan, an African American deaf man from the South, and Martha, a retired school teacher and widow. Lynnie and Homan met in an institution for the “feeble minded” in Pennsylvania. Lynnie was placed there at a young age by her parents who felt it would be best for the family to not have this kind of child in their lives. There is background story revolving around her parents’ decision, the continued feeling of Lynnie for her sister, and some reintegration into her sister’s life later in the book. Homan came to the institution as a result of life forces in the 60s, of being black, deaf and unable to talk.  He is portrayed as a large, muscular man, capable of deep feelings and thoughts but lacking the ability to communicate as he does not know braille or American sign language, but rather a slang version he shared with his family, and later Lynnie.  Homan and Lynnie fall in love.

The institution is portrayed stereotypically with mostly poor care and lack of oversight which one night was taken to extremes resulting in Lynnie’s  rape and subsequent pregnancy.  Lynnie keeps the pregnancy hidden and escapes one night in her 9th month with Homan, who delivers the baby. In need of a place to stay, and mindful that the institution is looking for them, Homan and Lynnie choose Martha’s door to knock on because Lynnie likes the lighthouse mailbox. Although the authorities find and retake Lynnie, Homan manages to escape. The authorities  do not realize there was a baby. Thus begins the story of Martha, baby Julia , Lynnie and Homan over the next 30 ish years.

Our bookclub thought the story was well written and drew us into the characters lives. Each life was vastly affected, and greatly changed by acts of human kindness. Lynnie has a caregiver at the institution who takes special interest in her, encourages her artwork, keeps her secret and stays close with her throughout her life. The caregivers’ life is also enriched by this experience.  Martha, who decides to keep the baby safe and becomes her  parent receives great assistance from her past students and her life takes unexpected twists with great rewards. Homan, through his strength and caring ways, effects a wheel-chaired bound young man who later finds Homan and opens the door to sign language and Homan’s potential. We found the book to be an emotional read…maybe a tad slow at some points, and a tad unbelievable as loose ends were neatly tied, but nevertheless all of us finished the book, enjoyed it, and found many discussion points.

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8 Comments »

  1. I agree that the loose ends were very nicely tied, a bit too nicely maybe. But otherwise, I loved this book. It was much better than I expected, actually. 🙂

    Comment by Leeswammes — October 16, 2012 @ 1:57 pm | Reply

    • And last month we read Gone Girl and many of us were unsatisfied with the ending because it left too many loose ends! Go figure! Thanks for commenting!

      Comment by susanbright — October 16, 2012 @ 8:57 pm | Reply

  2. Sounds like an interesting read. 🙂

    x,
    Becca

    Comment by rebecca2000 — October 16, 2012 @ 5:05 pm | Reply

    • Welcome Becca! It was a very enjoyable read and a good discussion book!

      Comment by susanbright — October 16, 2012 @ 8:58 pm | Reply

  3. I followed this book, with Rachel Simon’s non-fiction account of her own family, RIDING ON THE BUS WITH MY SISTER. I would recommend this, as well, for readers with an interest in the special needs population. Has anyone attended any of her presentations?

    Comment by Mary Ellen — October 17, 2012 @ 11:09 am | Reply

    • Hi Mary Ellen! I just checked out Rachel Simon’s schedule. I would love to hear her speak but unfortunately she is not going to be in my area any time soon. Thanks for the heads up on Riding on The Bus With My Sister. I am sure it is also a very touching book and well worth the read!

      Comment by susanbright — October 17, 2012 @ 12:40 pm | Reply

  4. I just finished listening to the book. I enjoyed the story and its many complexities, but was very disappointed with the ending. I was mostly disappointed that Homen and Lynnie reunited. It was too much of an artificial ending. Also, the way Julia found her mother was not realistic enough. I would have been happy just for Kate to reunite Julia and Lynnie through Pete, the stepfather. Also, we didn’t need to know that Julia was in the divorce process. However, all in all, the book opened our eyes about life for people with disabilities, especially those who do not communicate well, and that will stay with us for a long time.

    I’ve been following your book group for almost a year, reading the books along with you – or listening to them. Thank you for introducing me to many wonderful books.

    Comment by Kathleen — October 24, 2012 @ 1:20 pm | Reply

  5. Hi Kathleen, Thank you! I am so glad that you are reading along with us. I would love to send you a copy of this month’s book And When She Was Good By Laura Lippman. Please email your address to Susan@Fridaymorningbookclub.com
    I agree…the ending was a little forced..at least it was a happy one!

    Comment by susanbright — October 24, 2012 @ 3:30 pm | Reply


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