The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon (audio)

Source: Hachette
Audiobook, 12 hours
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The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon, narrated by Kate Reading, is rough story with a shining light of hope at its center.  Beautiful girl, who has a developmental disability, meets a deaf African-American man at the School, which is really just an institution for disabled people, in 1968.  Spanning about 40 years, readers are taken on a mysterious journey with beautiful girl, Lynnie, and with Homan as they seek to achieve self-actualization, while still hoping that their dearest wishes will come true.  After a fateful escape from the school and leaving her baby with Martha at a farmhouse nearby, Lynnie is recaptured and returns under the secret tutelage of Kate, who helps her learn to speak again.  As Lynnie grows as an artist and as a young woman, she still harbors the desire to see the man she loved, even though she did not know his name, and her baby again.

Lynnie and Homan are drawn incredibly well and with a compassionate hand by Simon, and the narration by Kate Reading is superb.  Readers will be drawn into their hardships, their hopes, their dreams, and their friendships along the way, and like them, readers will hope for the best possible outcome.  Despite speech difficulties, learning to read, learning sign language, and overcoming harsh disappointments, Lynnie and Homan never become more than human, while they have buried their hopes inside and think about them, they face their disappointments as many of us would.  They despair, they cry, they worry, and they dream.

As a sister of a disabled brother, Simon’s novel hit home in a lot of ways because we knew about these institutions and my parents had decided to keep my brother home and found him area programs that would help him when they could afford them.  The abuse that the disabled suffered in these institutions was nothing short of horrific, and I cannot imagine how my brother would have endured those things.  Lynnie and Homan are discriminated against, made fun of, and more, but its the moments of kindness, compassion, and love that field their journeys.

The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon, narrated by Kate Reading, is stunning, compassionate, and emotional.  It is a testament to a world in need of healing and greater inclusion and understanding.  I’m only sorry that it took me so long to listen to this phenomenally touching story.

About the Author:

Rachel Simon is an American author of both fiction and non-fiction. Her six books include the 2011 novel The Story of Beautiful Girl, and the 2002 memoir Riding The Bus With My Sister.


About the Narrator:

Kate Reading has been a freelance narrator for over twenty years. She received an Audie Award for Bellwether by Connie Willis; an Audie nomination for The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, recorded with her husband, Michael Kramer; and an Audie nomination for Blow Fly by Patricia Cornwell. She has also received numerous Earphones Awards from AudioFile magazine, which has named her Narrator of the Year and, for two years running, Best Voice in Science Fiction and Fantasy for her narration of Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. As Jennifer Mendenhall, she has worked as a stage actor in the Washington, D.C.


  1. Anna (Diary of an Eccentric) says

    Sounds like a good one. Will keep it in mind.

  2. bermudaonion(Kathy) says

    I’m glad this worked so well for you. I tried listening to it and just didn’t click with the narrator – I was 1 or 2 CDs into the story and realized I had no idea what was going on so I abandoned the book. I wonder if print would work for me.