Well-crafted read

Kapi-Mana News - - REVIEW -

The Story of Beau­ti­ful Girl – Rachel Si­mon (Ran­dom House)

The hero­ine, af­ter es­cap­ing from the vil­lains, is re­cap­tured.

Thus be­gins The Story of Beau­ti­ful Girl, and it feels wrong: won’t the hero­ine’s lover, Ho­man, save her? No – he runs.

What about the widow, at whose house the cou­ple found sanc­tu­ary: surely she will in­ter­vene as Lyn­nie, our hero­ine, is thrust into the car wait­ing to re­turn her to the School for the In­cur­able and Fee­ble­minded. But the widow just watches.

The vil­lains drive off with our hero­ine in the back seat, and it seems they have won.

The vil­lains didn’t know she had left her new­born baby with the widow.

Rachel Si­mon’s well-crafted novel fol­lows three sto­ry­lines: the widow, rais­ing the baby as her own; in­tel­lec­tu­ally dis­abled Lyn­nie; and Ho­man, the deaf African Amer­i­can man Lyn­nie is in love with, try­ing to find his way back to her.

The sto­ry­lines ro­tate around Lyn­nie, strug­gling to sur­vive in one of the United States’ now­in­fa­mous psy­chi­atric fa­cil­i­ties in the 1960s, and hold­ing onto her hope of see­ing Ho­man and her daugh­ter again.

Ho­man’s dif­fi­culty in a world where no-one speaks his lan­guage is ex­plored, and the reader gets a real sense of his frus­tra­tion. Ho­man doesn’t even know Lyn­nie’s name, but calls her, in his mind, ‘Beau­ti­ful Girl’. He strug­gles with ev­ery­thing, un­til the strug­gle be­comes too much.

The Story of Beau­ti­ful Girl is a fas­ci­nat­ing look into the mind of an in­tel­lec­tu­ally dis­abled per­son, and a deaf man in a world where he can’t com­mu­ni­cate.

Si­mon also in­tended the book to be a fas­ci­nat­ing look into life in one of the United States’ nowde­funct men­tal in­sti­tu­tions, but there wasn’t a good sense of this. Life in the school is shown in in­ter­ac­tions with at­ten­dants, all ei­ther ‘‘good’’ or ‘‘bad’’. Some shock­ing sto­ries are told, but we only see these in flash­backs, with­out any real tugs on the heart­strings.

But while the un­ex­plored po­ten­tial in de­scrib­ing the school was dis­ap­point­ing, the in­sight into such a dif­fer­ent so­ci­ety and char­ac­ters, and the pace and plot turns of the book, kept me read­ing and en­joy­ing The Story of Beau­ti­ful Girl.

– Re­viewed by Ruth Gibbs

Wither – Lau­ren DeSte­fano (Harper Voy­ager)

Wither draws the reader in and makes them a part of the story – it feels like it be­comes your own re­al­ity.

Part one of The Chem­i­cal Gar­den Tril­ogy, the story is set in a fu­ture where hu­mans are dy­ing young.

The ‘‘first gen­er­a­tion’’ are the last hu­mans to be dy­ing of old age and are search­ing for an an­ti­dote so their chil­dren may live longer lives.

The story is told through Rhine, an or­phan try­ing to find a way home to her twin brother. But she is forced to marry Lin­den, who has also taken two other brides.

Like Rhine, I fell in love with the ser­vant Gabriel, and pitied her hus­band Lin­den. The sis­ter­wives be­come friends with Rhine and I found I quite liked them too. House Mas­ter Vaughn, Lin­den’s fa­ther, al­lowed me to feel sorry for Lin­den as he is un­aware of his fa­ther’s dark se­crets.

As the story un­folds, we learn the hor­ri­ble truths hid­den in the beau­ti­ful man­sion.

Wither was a book dif­fi­cult to put down and very easy to read. Def­i­nitely a book for a teenage girl who loves to lose her­self in ro­mance.

– Re­viewed by Ni­cole Bax­ter

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.