Reviews in the Media for The Story of Beautiful Girl
"The Story of Beautiful Girl is a beautiful story, indeed. In its sweeping breadth and textured detail lies a finely crafted testament to the benevolence and brutality of our humanity. I dare you to read the first twenty pages and not keep going."
New York Times bestselling author of Marley & Me
New York Times Bestselling author of Then Came You,
Fly Away Home, In Her Shoes, and more, as heard on
The Today Show
"Simon's stunning new novel expands everything we ever thought we knew about love, possibility and the boundaries of the human heart. Moving, suspenseful and an absolute jewel of a book."
New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You
"The Story of Beautiful Girl is the best book I've ever read."
author of Letters To Sam and Learning From The Heart
"This novel is the author's gift to those who never had a chance to speak for themselves. And so, from the start, we know what's coming: a work of fiction committed to confronting a deeply disturbing truth....The real mystery of this book lies not so much in the plot twists - Will Lynnie and Homan ever reunite? Will baby Julia ever discover her true identity? - but right here, inside the heads of its characters: How does someone like Homan or Lynnie, living with mental disability, experience and think about life? Simon addresses that question with compassion and heart, informed by her experience with her own sister, who has an intellectual disability. Readers are likely to emerge from "The Story of Beautiful Girl" with a new level of empathy for those who were once hidden away - and for all those living with a disability."
"One of the most powerful, heart-rending stories you will read this year. Simon has a solid grounding in the frailties and strengths of the human heart. You care about her characters even when you don't want to follow the paths they take, and she weaves their tales together with a deft and certain hand....The interwoven stories all combine to tell you what it means to love under impossible conditions, to hope, to risk comfort in order to do the right thing and to believe in oneself when no one else does. It's a great story."
"Beautifully written...captivating and excruciatingly bittersweet. Simon deserves kudos for tackling historically sensitive, social issues with deft prose and an uncanny gift for characterization. These people will haunt you till the last page, leaving an indelible impression and lots of talking points - making it a great choice for book clubs. For those who loved "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett, this one's for you."
"A most unusual and moving story of a retired schoolteacher who hides the baby of a deaf African-American man and a developmentally disabled young woman on a stormy night. This story contrasts their emotional tenderness with the cruelty and ignorance of the society around them."
"The treatment of people with disabilities, particularly their confinement to institutions, is explored in detail that allows readers to empathize and better understand their challenges. An insightful window on a world society has often kept hidden."
"The most compelling, resonating novel I've read in years….A breathtakingly beautiful, yet heart-wrenchingly aching story that, despite its cruelty and humanity, uplifts the reader… This is a story of people choosing to do the right thing, even though it might not be correct or popular. Readers will rail at the injustice of humanity, smile at the wonderments and cry at the ending. Do not miss The Story of Beautiful Girl."
"To begin is to be enchanted… [It] treads ground I've never even seen approached in fiction… Expect to be hearing a lot about The Story of Beautiful Girl… It has all the right stuff to be a big book club favorite."
"A special book… charged with emotional energy right from the start… wonderfully crafted, rich with both setting and character. As soon as I closed it, I said, "This is a perfect Bets On book."
"Its protagonists' quest for freedom and dignity will tug at the most stubborn of heartstrings… A gratifying conclusion, one that rewards an indomitable romantic and parental love for its many sacrifices."
"Readers of Rachel Simon's fiction know that she's a hopeful romantic. Her work is smart and laced with sweetness, presenting an optimistic view even when her subject matter is bleak. She brings an anthropologist's eye to her stories, describing characters, action, and emotion as if she were new to the weary world. By seeing anew what comes naturally to most of us - cognition, memory, hearing, speech - Simon illuminates her characters' interior lives and finds new and forgotten meaning."
"…makes a beeline for the heartstrings in capturing a seemingly impossible love story-and the secret pact that makes it so unforgettable… an illuminating and affecting view into a unique and misunderstood love."
"[An] enthralling love story… an enormously affecting read… sensitive insight into a complex world often dismissed by the 'abled.'"
"Rachel Simon's novel will make you shed tears - of joy. Simon's compassion for people with disabilities shines through everything she does….[A] remarkable novel."
"A touching story of human kindness and a reminder that we are all just people, regardless of our physical or intellectual limitations."
"Rapidly on its way to becoming a book-club favourite is this meticulously written tale of a young couple with disabilities and a lost child. Rachel Simon has crafted a rich and entertaining saga that is also a reminder of how shabbily society can treat people who don't seem to fit in. Oh, and have plenty of tissues handy."
"Readers will grow outraged by the atrocities that actually happened not so very long ago. Even more important, however, is the way in which Simon utilizes the inner monologues of Lynnie and Homan to enhance their humanity in a much-needed and too-rare way. Seeing inside their heads, coming to know them as thinking and hurting and loving people, comes far closer to knowing the disabled and empathizing with them than most readers ever would on their own. Crafting a sweeping, decades-long love story between two such characters does as much for raising awareness and enhancing compassion as any exposé ever could."
"One of those moving novels that stays with you long after you've turned the last page…. beautiful…packed with stunning descriptions and an astute understanding of the frustrations of living with a disability and being totally misunderstood. A truly eye-opening tale."
"Simon combines love story and social accountability to great effect."
"A moving and disturbing tale of love and loyalty. And you might cry."
"This is a rare story that really draws the reader in, from start to finish. My love of psychology meant that the description of what went on in the institution gripped me, as did entering the silent, misunderstood worlds of Lynnie and Homan, along with descriptions of their tragic childhoods and the effect of their disabilities on their families, and the sweet memories they share. I literally could not put this book down - finished it overnight."
"Beautiful story-telling that pulls you right in."
"A gripping yet tender storyline that unfolds as the insurmountable obstacles are faced with bravery and loyalty. You're sure to be reaching for the tissues."
which also named it Book Of The Month
"Every once in awhile, a novel comes along with the power to significantly change one's perspective while simultaneously being a beacon of hope for people who have been forgotten, who are disenfranchised, and who remain on the fringes of society. It happened with To Kill a Mockingbird, the classic novel by Harper Lee that illuminated race relations in the Deep South. And it has the potential to happen again (as I hope and pray it does) with The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon."
"The plot is 100% original. I don't think I have read or heard of a book like this before, nor read something like this ever in my life. The forty years that this book covers is filled with magnificence, desolation, lightheartedness, and wonderment. You think you know what is going to happen, but you will be blown away by what is truly in store. Rachel Simon truly created a piece of magic that should be on everyone's bookshelf."
"I stayed up late every night this week reading The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon. It's no great surprise that I loved it....The most surprising aspect of the novel for me was the way in which Simon explored the faith life of each character. The old woman, for instance, doesn't attend church and has her doubts about God's goodness, and yet it was a passage from Matthew's gospel that provoked her to welcome Lynnie and Homan: 'I was a stranger and you invited me in.' Kate returns to faith and her trust in God's leading prompts some of the most important transitions within the novel. Some well-meaning strangers take Homan to a faith-healing service in which he is treated more like an object than a human being. Lynnie's parent's rabbi urges them to institutionalize her. Just as Simon complicates the picture of institutional life with stories of terror and hope, so too she creates a realistic and therefore complex faith for her characters. Read this novel for a story that gives a glimpse of humanity in its basest depravity and its most glorious possibilities."
"The Story of Beautiful Girl is haunting, hopeful and beautifully written. I was swept up in the story immediately and ate up the pages with satisfaction and anticipation. Each character, including Lynnie's best friend and nurse Kate were given ample time for character and story building throughout the story. Each person was effected by the terrible treatment of the intellectually inhibited and the outcome of others actions. Not only was the character development strong but the descriptions of settings was so well written that each place came to life for me. I just love that! I highly recommend picking up The Story of Beautiful Girl when you get a chance and finding out for yourself what I enjoyed about it."
"The Story of Beautiful Girl is important, not because of its forensic critique of the 20th century medical model of treatment for the developmentally disabled or for the institutionalization and unjust warehousing of some high functioning human beings, but because it reminds us of the vulnerability of every human soul. The Story of Beautiful Girl weaves a wonderfully complex tapestry of lives in a lifetime, intersecting, darkness and bright, gloom and radiance, informed with just enough frill; a mural that conveys, in a word: hope."
"A love story unlike any before. [It] explores the love between two people that others assume incapable of connection. A wonderful and brave story."
"I was captivated by this book. The story was engrossing. I befriended the characters and rooted for them as the story unfolded. It was written with a light, deft hand that didn't become mawkish despite a plot that could have lent itself to that. The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon was good on so many levels. It's my pleasure to give it my first Luxury Reading five star rating. I was hooked in the first couple of pages and just kept reading as fast as I could. Simply a great story."
"…With The Story of Beautiful Girl, [Rachel Simon] has wrapped much of her life and heart into fiction form and presented to us a story of loss and of hope… It was amazing."
"I blame Rachel Simon for the bags under my eyes and the toothpicks holding up my eyelids. And, it's all because of this book… 3 nights this week it's had me just one more paging myself into a 2:30 am bedtime… Ms. Simon's ability to create characters that we identify with and care about allows her to enthrall her readers with a decades spanning story that at times horrifies with its unflinching look at the mistreatment of the disabled. But The Story of Beautiful Girl… also delights and thrills the reader as you watch Lynnie and Homan grown and learn and become fully realized members of the big, wide world we all live in. The Story of Beautiful Girl is a rare gem of a book and is well worth having in your library. Do yourself a huge favor and pick up a copy as soon as you can."
"EXTRAORDINARY! BREATHTAKING! This book is SUCH A DELIGHT! I have never read anything so loving in my life. The bond all the characters have to each other in this book is not come by every day. This 'is' what this book is, it is about LOVE….This book is captivating, spellbinding. It draws you right in and you can't put it down…This book outshines ANY OTHER BOOK I HAVE EVER READ! It may change the way you think! Divine! Breathtaking! There are not words enough to describe 'how' wonderful this is! DON'T MISS THIS BOOK!"
"What a lovely story. It is filled with heartbreak and despair, but there are so many lovely, caring people in here that strive to help others rise above the sorrow that it's a real joy to read. Eye opening in ways that might just help you to look at that odd-acting person on the street a little differently instead of just walking around them in avoidance… The story sucks you in and keeps you on the edge of your seat through all this time. Will the baby be discovered and taken away? Will Lynnie and Homan ever find each other again. Will Lynnie ever get out of that horrible institution? Really great read that the Dew highly recommends."