The Story of Beautiful Girl. When a book makes you cry

Just finished a book that left me breathless and in tears. Not because it was the most extraordinary story, nor the most brilliantly written novel, nor a patent tear-jerker. The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon was something else entirely.

Written with almost poetic simplicity, the book conveyed a powerful story about a shameful period in our modern understanding of the mentally challenged when we warehoused those whom society just couldn’t face.

Beautiful girl (Linney) was institutionalized as a child when her family abandoned her perhaps because they couldn’t bear to see her at “the school” or because it was better to pretend they didn’t have such a problematic child. Homan, a deaf boy deemed “retarded” was thrown into the same environment.  Their journey, told through a brave escape, a baby rescued & raised by a lonely widow getting a remarkable second chance, and a passionate social worker, takes place over decades of change in our treatment of functional adults. From institutions to to creative  independent living, we get deeply engaged in the separate lives of our characters as they evolve .

Linney & Homan, two lovers separated by decades and following parallel tracks until their futures intersect, is not a new idea. As Shakespeare well knew, “there is nothing new under the sun.” But the way this story is told, you fall in love with the characters and their story arcs and you appreciate the power of a great book to move you deeply. And so, when it ended, I cried. Not because it was maudlin…but because it ended. And I was no longer in the story.

What books made you cry?


  1. I too really enjoyed this book. For some reason, books rarely make me cry. Now movies…that is a whole different thing. The last book that REALLY made me cry was Still Alice. A beautiful and oh so touching book!


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