Story of Beautiful Girl (Simon)

Book Reviews
In this enthralling love story, Lynnie, a young white developmentally disabled woman with limited speech, and Homan, a deaf African-American man, meet at the Pennsylvania State School for the Incurable and Feebleminded in the late 1960s. Despite strict rules, poor conditions, an abusive staff, and the couple's lack of language, Lynnie and Homan share tender moments. After their escape, a few days of freedom not only enables the secretly pregnant Lynnie to give birth outside the walls of the corrupt institution, it also secures the couple's admiration for one another. Fears of discovery force them to leave the baby in the hands of a nurturing widow, Martha Zimmer. Soon after, the school's staff apprehend Lynnie, while Homan flees. Although their stories diverge and unfold independently of one another, memories of their short time together sustain them for more than 40 years as they develop the confidence to eventually parent, learn to sign and speak, and finally, reunite. Simon (Riding the Bus with My Sister) who grew up with a developmentally disabled sister, has written an enormously affecting read, and provided sensitive insight into a complex world often dismissed by the "abled."
Publishers Weekly

Simon, author of the best-selling memoir Riding the Bus with My Sister, returns with a touching novel about three lives forever intertwined as the result of a quick meeting. Homan, black and deaf, and Lynnie, white and developmentally delayed, have fallen in love and escape together from the miserable confines of a 1960s Pennsylvania institution for the "feeble-minded," The School. They seek refuge at the farmhouse of Martha, a retired schoolteacher and widow. Employees of The School track down Lynnie and Homan, but before Lynnie is forced to return, she reveals to Martha a precious secret: she has given birth. The novel covers the decades following Lynnie's return to The School, Homan's escape, and Martha's life after she decides what to do with the child. Verdict: At times tender, at times heartbreaking, this novel will appeal to fans of Simon's previous work and anyone interested in the deplorable treatment in the not-so-distant past of those with disabilities. —Shaunna Hunter, Hampden-Sydney Coll. Lib., VA
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