THE STORY OF BEAUTIFUL GIRL
By Rachel Simon
This was a book I picked in a hurry from the shelf. I believe I bought it with Snow Child (review coming soon); but it took me a while to read it because when I was almost halfway, my sister took the book and didn’t return it till she was done. Then the book was back in my hands but I had already come to the conclusion that it was a spectacular novel and I wanted to do the review justice so I started the reading again from the beginning.
I love the title. It was why I picked the book. If the title had been The Story of A Beautiful Girl or The Story of the Beautiful Girl, it would not have stood out so much. What difference the inclusion or exclusion of an article makes! 10/10
Martha is a retired schoolteacher, Lynnie is the beautiful girl who does not speak and Homan is the black man who cannot hear; together the three of them defy the odds and an institution that attempts to strip them of their basic rights as human beings. The story begins in 1968 and addresses the treatment of people who are ‘different’ from us. There is nothing rudimentary or mediocre about this story. I would have to give it a 9/10. I have kept the 1 because I would have ended the story much sooner, but I suppose Simon’s ending was realistic.
The characters are real, honest and true to their limitations. This is reflected best with Homan, who is known as Number Fourty- Two or Buddy because he cannot tell them his name and whose point of view is determined by the senses he can use:
‘But what if hearing made him forget how to listen with his eyes, and skin, and nose, and mouth?’
‘I couldn’t sign to Buddy with the baby in my hands, so I made a sound of happiness and set my lips on Buddy’s, and he made his voice move up and down until we met at the same sound, and then we held that note, the baby between us, our bodies humming together.’
I would give the characters 10/10. As for the writing, it was flawless:
‘For a long time, in Lynnie’s mind, where word-shapes drifted about, sometimes finding form, sometimes not, she’d thought of it as simply the bad place.’
9/10 for the writing.
Read this book.