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Award-winning narrator Kate Reading gives a compelling performance. Reading has narrated diverse books from science fiction to Jane Austen. Her range is evident in this performance. Reading deftly handles the alternating viewpoints and diverse characters, from an older repressed woman finding a new purpose in her life to a deaf African American male who has known more than his share of pain to a world-weary, compassionate nurse. She tempers some melodramatic writing and keeps the story grounded, allowing listeners to find the novel believable and relatable.
. Author Rachel Simon is best known for her memoir, Riding the Bus with My Sister. She gives a heartbreaking glimpse inside America's shameful history of institutions with The Story of Beautiful Girl. This is the novel's greatest strength, the revelation of how families and communities failed to care for its most vulnerable members. Listeners will want to stick with the novel to find out what happens to the characters and the school, but the novel does not quite live up to the promising introduction. The writing is overwrought at times and the frequent alternating viewpoints with time jumps become tiresome.
Despites its flaws, The Story of Beautiful Girl is still affecting and will appeal to fans of Kim Edwards' The Memory Keeper's Daughter and Simon's previous work, as well as those interested in the treatment of people with disabilities. Kate Reading's performance moderates weaker aspects and succeeds in making the novel an engaging listen. Julie MacDonald
And so begins the 40-year epic journey of Lynnie, Homan, Martha, and baby Julia - lives divided by seemingly insurmountable obstacles, yet drawn together by a secret pact and extraordinary love.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By FanB14 on 05-24-12
Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?
Yes, it was worth the listen. Not one of the best, but a solid "B" effort.
Would you be willing to try another book from Rachel Simon? Why or why not?
Yes, I think she is a credible author. The subject matter and overall premise was interesting, just had gaps and hokey at times. The ending was tied up too neatly and seemed a little far-fetched.
Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Kate Reading?
I did not care from the narrator. I would have cast someone with a younger sounding voice without the northern accent.
Do you think The Story of Beautiful Girl needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?
No, couldn't support it.
29 of 29 people found this review helpful
By Shellbin on 05-10-11
This book took me awhile to get into, despite the fact that it is gripping, moving, compelling, from the first paragraph. There was no problem with it holding my interest. However, some things in the story seem - especially at first - a bit far-fetched. It required some suspension of disbelief. Once I was past a certain point in the novel, however, what had been bothering me along those lines of believe-ability evaporated. The last few hours especially are "driveway material" - if you've been listening in the car, it's likely you'll be hunting for some headphones as soon as you get in the house.
Bottom line for this reviewer: a beautiful, moving novel.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful