Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Story of Beautiful Girl

The Story of Beautiful Girl
By Rachel Simon

The adventure, spans from 1968 to 2011.  It  is about two runaway children., Homan, and Lynnie.

 Lynnie is intellectually challenged, and Homan is Afro-American, that happens to be deaf.  The book opens up with both of them on the run with a baby in her arms. When they come upon the home of Martha, a widowed, retired school teacher.

The authorities are looking for both of them, they have escaped from the School of the Incurable and Feeble Minded. When Martha invites them into her home before the authorities find them. Unfortunately the authorites do find them. But before they are taken away, Lynnie whispers to Martha's ear, HIDE HER.  Homan runs away and on on the run for a span of forty years.

I posted my review last year about this novel. But, I decided to post again, this time mainly, the discussion our book club had. To read my entire review without spoiler, please go to my post here.

I enjoyed going on the adventure again with Lynnie and Homan. What a ride it was. There is adventure, suspense, romance, family relationships, history, and social commentary.

There is so much to talk about and discuss if you are in a book club. This is one novel I wonder why Oprah overlooked for her book club, or perhaps since it is resurrected she will discuss it.

The book takes place during the 1960's, there was so much upheaval happening in the medical field, especially with mental illness, and intellectually challenged. The doors to institutions was beginning to close realizing that the conditions were terrible, and most of them could live independently thanks to President JFK.

 During the book club these things were brought up:
 The father was ashamed of his daughter, Lynnie. He pushed his wife to place her in the school.. In those days, that is what most families did.

The conditions of the institutions were terrible. Most of the staff were uneducated, and treated the residents inhumanly. There was a institution in New York City, called Willowbrook.  a news broadcast opened up to controversy and eventually closure thanks to Geraldo Rivera reporting this. When a child was placed in the school they all eventually contracted Hepatitis, and was experimented on. This is a unfortunate part of medical history.

In the novel, there was one person that cared about Lynnie, that was Kate she pushed her emotionally and physically.  Kate saw Lynnie's talent was art. If  Kate never did this for Lynnie, she would never have become independent, and live on her own after the institution was closed.

During the entire book, we read  after the authorities take Lynnie back, and Homan is on the run. Martha sells her house and makes a new beginning for her and the baby, Julia.   We realize things are not necessarily what they seem.

We think we know what happened, how Lynnie got pregnant. But, there is a confession that is told years later, and Kate realizes the terrible thing that happened.

In the novel, Homan is not intellectual challenged, he is just deaf.  What is terrible there were many children that were put in these schools because they were different. They were not intellectually challenged, but may have had cerebral palsy, or some other disease.  But not to warrant them to be put in these schools. Many years later, it was found out that Homan did not need to be in this school.

In reality, there are children just like, this and they did not get the help they needed.  They are grown and over the age of childhood.  The education system said it is too late for them.

In Homan's case, his files were coincidentally lost.  If the authorities found out he was missing there would be repercussions for the superintendent If they could not account for one of their own.

The book club agreed we loved the different adventures of Homan, because what he encountered was the hippie movement,  revivals, those are the things that were happening during the late 60's and 70's.

The one thing we all had a problem with the ending. But, because the story was  sad, we decided it had to have a happy ending the way it did.  The way the author connected everything was well done.

Everyone in our book club enjoyed the ride with Lynnie and Homan. I recommend for you to join them in their adventure and read the novel.  


Anonymous said...

I appreciate your informative post. I was not very familiar with this book, although I have seen it around. I will most certainly give it a try. Thank you for the recommendation.

Marie said...

this sounds sweet. my family has a home on nantucket and she is a very popular author there!