The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon (migrated from bookblogger)

This is a very unusual story of an unlikely couple who have run away from an institution where they’ve been living in order for the woman to give birth to a baby girl.  They seek shelter from an older woman named Martha, who takes them in.  Unfortunately, almost immediately, they are pursued by the officials of the institution, who capture the woman, while the man runs away.  Fortunately, they do not seem to be aware that there ever was a baby, and the parting secret words of the woman to Martha are “Hide her.”  The rest of the story is the unfolding of the lives of these characters and the impact that this one even has on each of them.

This is a difficult book to read in that the experiences of the characters are difficult.  There are some moments that are uplifting and hopeful but many are discouraging.   What is important about the book is that it does give the reader an appreciation for the long struggle of those with disabilities to gain rights and access to appropriate treatment.  Prior to the exposure by the media and a few concerned individuals, these people were all too often locked away in dilapidated conditions and physically and mentally abused.  As this book begins in the late 1960’s and ends in the 2000’s, it follows the progression of society towards more acceptance and nurturing of children with special needs as opposed to ostracizing them.

The book is a little awkwardly written, but it attempts to provide the thought processes of those characters with disabilities.  Sometimes it achieves this and sometimes it just feels awkward.  But there is suspense and there is a lot of human drama that engages the reader and kept at least me interested in the story.

Interesting book, but not a must-read.


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