My friend loaned me a book she thought I might enjoy: She was right! It was SO good, I must tell you a little bit about it. The title is The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon. Rachel is the sister of a person with disabilities, and wrote a book about her experiences with her sister. You may have heard of, because it was made into a Hallmark film – Riding the Bus with My Sister, (2005). If you’ve seen that beautiful film, hang on if you read the book, because it’s even better!
The Story of Beautiful Girl is fiction, but tells the story of deinstitutionalization of people with disabilities. The story begins in 1968, on a stormy November night, when a mute young woman, Lynnie, and a deaf man, Number 42, show up at a random farmhouse occupied by a widowed retired elementary school teacher, Martha. Lynnie is holding a newborn child, which the couple hides in the attic. Shortly authorities arrive and Lynnie is captured. Number 42 escapes. Just as police escort her out the door, she whispers to Martha “hide her”. That’s where the history of the characters begins to be uncovered; the drama and suspense of the hiding and the struggles of the characters unfold. The beautiful language informs the reader of the horrors of institutional living, and the movement created for people to exercise their civil rights of self-determination.
If you’re looking for a good summer read – pick up this book, but clear your calendar because if you are like me, you won’t be able to put it down.