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The Story of Beautiful Girl    by Rachel Simon order for
Story of Beautiful Girl
by Rachel Simon
Order:  USA  Can
Grand Central, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

In this beautifully felt novel we learn what happens when a deaf man, a woman who can't speak and a childless widow meet. A story like this can only be written by someone who has experienced living with a developmentally disabled person. To be able to get inside such a person requires a particular kind of empathy, which Rachel Simon amply demonstrates.

Lynnie's terrible experience at the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded has resulted in a life-changing event for her, her deaf friend Homan and the widow Martha. Through these characters, author Simon allows us to see exactly how badly we as a society have treated those whom we consider outside the range of normal. From the truly degrading actions in the school to the unthinking responses of people on the outside, Simon shows it all.

Yet there are individuals who have a greater humanity and who therefore make a difference in struggling people's lives. Martha has to be on the run for a while, but her former students reach out to help her with no questions asked. Lynnie, though exposed to all the madness at the School, has a protective social worker in Kate.

Because many years pass in the telling of the story, getting everyone together at the end in the way it was described seems a bit unlikely. The end also seems a bit rushed compared with the leisurely pace of the rest of the novel. Nevertheless this is a fine story, which deserves a wide reading.

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