Endorsements from the Disability Community


"I was profoundly impacted by this book. The relationships it showed—with partners, friends, family, and professionals—have rarely been portrayed as honestly and beautifully as they are here. As a person with a disability and an advocate, I think the world will be a better place if everyone reads The Story of Beautiful Girl."

Geri Jewell
TV and film actress in "The Facts of Life", "The Young and The Restless," "Deadwood," etc.; disabilityadvocate

"The Story of Beautiful Girl delivers a tale that touches the heart while making you more aware of a reality that has been hidden for too long. It is a textured story that mentally involves you because it is real and destined to hold up over time. It is a wonderful book."

Bill Baldini
Reporter for NBC-10 News, Philadelphia whose expose on Pennhurst State School, "Suffer The Little Children," was the first to put the national spotlight on public institutions, helping lead to their demise

"Once in a generation, a novel may capture the essence of a major social transformation. The Story of Beautiful Girl is that novel. With great subtlety and finesse, this exquisite tale of one couple's love and growth embodies and illustrates a massive civil rights achievement – perhaps the most successful social change of the baby boomer generation."

James W. Conroy, Ph.D.
Expert who has appeared on NPR and in the TV program "Ghost Adventures"; Co-President of the Pennhurst Memorial and Preservation Alliance; Principal Investigator,Pennhurst Longitudinal Study (major study on transitioning out of institutions)

"Vivid, engaging, and deeply human, The Story of Beautiful Girl illustrates the powerful impact that race, language, gender, place, and disability have on our lives. As in "real life," poignant moments of misunderstanding and stigma, and oppression and exclusion, exist side-by-side with experiences of connection, empowerment, and liberation. This imaginative work seeks tangible ends: social justice, inclusive community, and love. A richly important book."

Susan Burch
Co-author of Unspeakable: The Story of Junius Wilson; editor-in-chief of The Encyclopedia of American Disability History

"In The Story of Beautiful Girl, Rachel Simon delivers complex, detailed characters, and taps into the courage, resiliency, and activism of those who experienced institutionalization. By embedding a sweeping story of loss and love in the broader context of institutionalization, deinstitutionalization and the self-advocacy movement, Beautiful Girl ensures that its readers come away not only emotionally touched, but more aware of the history of disability, the challenges faced by people with disabilities, the complexity of people with disabilities, and the philosophies of self-determination and civil rights.A powerful story and a terrific resource for teaching about disability."

Allison C. Carey, Ph.D.
Author, On the Margins of Citizenship: Civil Rights and Intellectual Disability in 20th Century America; Associate Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Shippensburg University; and Board Member for the Society for Disability Studies

"When you read The Story of Beautiful Girl, you will never forget it! As I read, I kept thinking, "This book should win a Pulitzer Prize." You will be immediately caught up in the story of a woman and a man whose disabilities would seem to keep them isolated from the rest of the world but who prove they have abilities far beyond what is apparent at first. The impact these two people and their child have on those around them is just as powerful as the impact others have on them.You will be grateful that you found The Story of Beautiful Girl,and you will tell everyone you know about it. "

Mary McHugh
Author of Special Siblings: Growing Up with Someone with a Disability

"I wish everyone could read Beautiful Girl. I would like to live in a world where teachers, neighbors, parents and community leaders understood – no, felt -- the human reality it uncovers. Read The Story of Beautiful Girl to open your mind and your heart."

Sue Swenson
parent of a son with developmental disabilities; former US Commissioner For Developmental Disabilities; former CEO of The Arc US;

"Beautiful Girl is fiction, but rings true for this reader. How the institution is described, the kindness of strangers, the shame families used to feel, and the discovery by a new generation are all recognizable in people I have known over the decades. I loved this book."

Steve Eidelman
H. Rodney Sharp Professor of Human Services Policy and Leadership, University of Delaware; former Executive Director, The Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation; former Executive Director of The Arc of the United States

"The Story of Beautiful Girl is a page-turner with a deep soul and purpose. A lyrically written, deeply resonating love story, tale of redemption and social justice, and mystery, it speaks to the ways people with disabilities have been segregated and mistreated in this country—and comes to a soaring and very satisfying conclusion. It's a book you won't be able to put down, with characters you won't forget."

Nancy Weiss
Director, National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities, University of Delaware

"The Story of Beautiful Girl is a testimony to power of the deepest of human needs, that of discovering both who and whose we are, on our own terms. It is about three journeys to find new identities, those of Lynnie and Homan, but also the entire service and support system for people who were too quickly institutionalized because of assumptions about their being less than human. It is also about a number of other journeys, including my own, whose career began as a chaplain in a place much like The School and led to the honor of walking with people and supporting them in their quests to find themselves, people they could call friends, and homes where they could love and be loved. To journey with Lynnie and Homan in this book is to be invited into the heart of what makes us all human."

The Rev. Bill Gaventa
Associate Professor
The Elizabeth M. Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
New Brunswick, N.J.

"The Story of Beautiful Girl is a poignant and moving story that left an indelible mark on my heart and soul. Simon has eloquently portrayed the injustice of dehumanizing incarceration of people with disabilities; and the love, respect and courage of those who supported them in their journey toward a meaningful and independent life."

Renee Pietrangelo
CEO, American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR)

"The Story of Beautiful Girl gives us a new and long overdue narrative about people who have lived in institutions -one that is based on their strength, courage and the power of love."

Nancy Thaler
Executive Director, National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disability Services (NASDDDS)

"This compelling novel provides a glimpse into the impact that institutions have had on the people who lived in them, their families, and our society, while beautifully illustrating what we all share: the journey to find meaning and belonging in our lives."

Margaret Nygren
Executive Director and CEO, American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD)

"Reading this book through the eyes of a human services professional and an advocate for direct support professionals, I was drawn to Kate, the devoted direct support professional, and her decades-long allegiance to Lynnie. The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) has developed a Code of Ethics for those who support people with disabilities in their communities. Even in 1968, Kate showed incredible skill in virtually of our ethical standards. The NADSP envisions The Story of Beautiful Girl as a training opportunity for direct support professionals. We also believe this book will be useful to high school and college students who choose to work with people with intellectual and other disabilities."

Joseph M. Macbeth
Executive Director, National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals(NADSP)

"This is not a book about disability; this is a best-selling saga where disability is but one of the components that make it a book you will never forget, filled with power, romance, evil, heroism, adventure, danger, sorrow, and struggle.I wish it were required reading in the human service field."

Lisa Burck
President, National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP), Project Director The Arc of Mississippi

"Beautiful Girl is a wondrous love story with a horrific backdrop, and themes of hope, courage, friendship, and resilience. Rachel Simon casts the light on a dark period in American history that will resonate with all readers. One can't help being captivated."

Karen Flippo
Disability Educator, Institute for Community Inclusion, University of Massachusetts Boston

"What a beautiful book Beautiful Girl is! The multiple "voices" of Rachel's characters are brilliant, revealing unique, whole people who struggle, grow, hurt unbearably, have hope, faith, creativity, and deep resilience. A story of historic proportions, reminiscent of Alan Gurganus' Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All, it is a romping good read which shows us the possibilities of a world that values humanity’s variations- a world where each human being can grow to his or her fullest potential. Rachel is on a mission and her words are her tools. Long may she write!"

Joy E Weeber, Ph.D.
Disability Counselor Educator

"The Story of Beautiful Girl shows a great example of self-determination! The story also proves the importance being a self-advocate."

Julie Petty
National Self-Advocate Leader

"A compelling and timely story that underscores the importance of self determination and true inclusion."

Michael Brogioli, Executive Director, National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities


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