The Story Of Beautiful Girl

For all I know this book is a book club phenomenon that has been love and adored by millions. But that is not how I found it, or grew to fall in love with it. I was simply racked for time to pick a Historical Fiction for The EOG Book Club, and couldn’t muster the energy to blow through a Jane Austen novel in a little over two weeks. This lead to me frantically wandering the newly created book section of my mothers local Wal-Mart. (There is only one very tiny book store in town that keeps bankers hours.)

I was about to give up after seeing nothing that peaked my interest, regency royal scandals are not my cup of tea, when I saw this beautiful little blue cover glowing brightly on the top shelf. I thought to myself, it will be too good to be true if this turns out to be historical fiction, but low and behold it was and I was very happy.

The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon is set in the early 70’s and leads right up to current day, taking place at the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded, an institution where the disabled and mentally handicapped are dumped and taken care of only in the most basic way, and rarely even that.

The story follows 3 main characters:
Lynnie – a woman with developmental delays who is housed at the school who runs away with Homan after becoming pregnant due to the abuse of of the the grounds keepers.
Homan  – An African American deaf-mute man sent to the School simply because no one is able to communicate with him. He falls in love with Lynnie, and after finding out about her pregnancy promises to free her from the school.
Martha – A little old woman with no children of her own living on her farm after the death of her husband. Lynnie and Homan turn up on her door step one night and trust her with hiding and caring for the new born baby after Lynnie is apprehended and Homan is lost to the night.

I was incredibly impressed with the writing style and how well the author was able to put across the thoughts and emotions of all the characters. She masterfully delves into the mind and speech of an African American man who grew up in the 50’s, and surmounts the awesome challenge of him having to describe words and people he has never heard of. She also delves into the mind and feelings of Lynnie with such delicacy and insight I wasn’t at all surprised when the author turned out to have grown up with a sister who had a disability.

Without giving too much away I want to say that this book is really amazing, a lot of really important themes were explored in interesting and engaging ways. All the characters were well fleshed out and believable, well all but one but we can gloss over her. And the setting was almost 3 dimensional. I would recommend this read to absolutely anyone, the themes are universal and there is not so much romance that it would turn a guy off reading it.

My only critique was the ending, I felt that it could have been handled way better then it was. It felt a little rushed, and really the only part of the book that didn’t feel believable to me. There are so many ways that the writer could have resolved the story and brought Lynnie’s daughter to the realization of who her family was, it may have made the book a few chapters longer but would have been well worth the extra time. Luckily the story seems to resolve its self before we get to this disconnected feeling last chapter, so it was easy to disregard it and let it end a chapter earlier.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Who are you?!

Hello again everyone!! Its been a while since I have updated this blog, I do apologize, I even have a giant update to post about last months EOG Book Club (Spoilers: It was epic). But seeing as my brain is currently a wad of cotton-pudding hybrid, I figure I should start out with a Top Ten Tuesday to get me going. This weeks topic: “Top Ten Books That Were Totally Deceiving (those covers or titles that don’t fit the books, a book that was totally different than its summary, or those books you thought were going to be fluff that turned out to be more serious etc etc.)” Me likey this topic! Its one where I can pick favourites or disappointments. Though in retrospect maybe I should call it misconceptions in a few places.

1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: Spent years trying to muscle my way through this novel, but in the end Cole’s Notes’ed my way to  a passing grade. I adored both the movies, (Colin Firth have all my babies please) and was determined to read the book. About a year ago I stumbled on a cheap copy of the book (my previous attempts were from school or my enormous complete works of Jane Austen 20lb tome.) It was simple, clean, and hard cover bungee bound, which meant it could survive the various abuse it was sure to suffer during its travels in my purse. When I got it home to finally read it I was delightfully surprised that the otherwise very boring cover hid some treasure, the book had not only the novel, but several essays, graphs, and character synopsis’s that helped me to see Austen’s world in context, and know who the heck everyone was. With this new knowledge and understanding I was able to pound through Pride and Prejudice and actually enjoy it, pick out the little jokes and laugh and feel Elizabeth’s emotions.

2. We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver: Had heard a lot of really good things about this book, and the synopsis made it sound like it would be an engaging and thought provoking book into the mind of a mother dealing with the guilt of a son jailed for a school massacre. Opened the book, tried reading, and found myself face to face with some of the densest and (in my opinion) the most pompous writing I’ve ever read. Its supposed to be written in the style of letters, but to my knowledge no person on earth writes personal correspondence   as though they are trying to write the next great Russian novel… I was super disappointed and gave up after the first letter.

3. The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham: Bar none one of my favorite novels. Bar none one of my least favorite covers… OK, there’s a cuckoo, on someone’s head, whose lying on the ground, with their eyes open, staring all creepy at you. Granted after reading the book I get the symbolism , but for a person picking up the book for the first time it looks like crazy birds are running around killing people, and while that is an awesome story, it is not this story.

4. The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde: I found this book by asking around my local book store. I wanted another fairy tale retelling and had hit a wall in my search. Not a fairy tale but nursery rhyme retelling I was game to try something new. Though billed at a detective story I really didn’t expect it to have much of a mystery involved. Boy was I wrong, I have never in my life been more surprised by an ending. The twists and turns were wild and unexpected and lead me on a epic romp that I will never forget. Something I expected to be quick comedy turned into a delightfully complex mystery.

5. Mine Until Midnight by Lisa Kleypas: I apologize to the world!!! I actually liked this book!! They synopsis and cover quickly lead the observer to draw all sorts of conclusions about the quality and content of the book. It was my pick for our mandatory romance book for last months book club, I picked it cause it looked like it would be hilariously silly… not so friends, not so. The story was well thought out, and while not perfect by any means, much better then I had anticipated. I found myself getting invested in the well being of the main character and when it wrapped up suddenly, running to the book store to pick up the rest of the series.

6. Door in the Dragons Throat by Frank Peretti: Its a kids book, I read it when I was 14 because it looked interesting, and like a quick light read. It was in fact quick, light not so much, what I had not anticipated, absolutely terrifying. Frank Peretti is a fantastic suspense/thriller writer. 14 year old me did not know this, 14 year old me did not expect this, 14 year old me had nightmares that had me sleeping with the light on for at least a week.

7. Identical by Ellen Hopkins: I had read one book by this author before on  suggestion from a friend. I had greatly enjoyed the book despite my less favourable attitude towards the writing style. When I went to the book store to look into more of her titles I found them to revolve mainly around drug addiction, something that didn’t peak my interest. Then a few months later Identical came out. Nothing, and I repeat nothing could have prepared me for how this book wrecked me. Without saying too much about the plot lets just say the synopsis and cover while accurate are insufficient.

8. Secret Six – Unhinged by Gail Simone, Nicola Scott, Doug Hazelwood: Woo, a delicious comic for everyone out there!! 😀 I have had the great luck of finding a large company of nerdy comic book type friends in the last couple of months. They are amazing. ❤ I however am a nerd of a different sort, more sci-fi and manga then comics and super heroes. One lovely friend did me the great honour of borrowing a few trades of one of her favorites. It was DARK! I had anticipated the fighting and the nitty gritty, but it was infinitely darker then I could of imagined. I was thinking back to my cousins comics with Spiderman stopping kids from doing drugs and busting smugglers in Manitoba (an issue I still love and cherish). Not to say I didn’t like them, the writing was superb and the characters dynamic,  it was just so much different then I thought.

9. The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C Hines: If you’ve never read a book by this author then you are really missing out. His obvious love and care for his characters bleed through the pages, while his imagination takes you on wild adventures filled with magic and sword play. I was lucky to have stumbled onto this series by accident when trolling the science fiction/fantasy section at Chapters, their system while nice does not allow for searching by plot or theme like the magic card catalogue at the library. The cover makes it looks like silly fluff, fantasy written specifically for girls, with no real meat or substance to it. The synopsis while not horrible does nothing to dispel this myth. These characters were some of the most complex and interesting ones I had found in a long time, and the stories while they did have their share of fluff, were complex and interesting.

10. The Book Thief by Markus Zusack: I know, I know here it is again! 😀 And if it wasn’t such a good book then maybe I would feel bad, but its awesome so I dont… This book is marketed for tweens and teens, thus a lot of adults shrug it off as inconsequential. A person could never be more wrong. I have harped on the awesome that is this book in almost every Top Ten Tuesday because it is so well written and moving, so honestly if you haven’t read it get off your butt and get on it!

A Little Thing About Books

I want this blog to be about books. Simply that, books I’ve read and loved, and books I’ve read and hated. Books I’ve read and been entirely indifferent about.


I’m pretty sure this is the fourth or fifth time I’ve tried to write this opening, and every time I write it and reread it I’m never happy with it. For a blog about books it feels like this needs to be eloquently written, with impeccable grammar and the utmost grace, but truth be told, I’m no author and I always hated my literary analysis classes. To pump out a critical and detached report on the books I’ve read is the total opposite of my goal. I want to write these “reviews”, for lack of a better word, with all the emotion the book gave me. A summery without personal opinion is not one I want to read.

Books and I have had a lengthy relationship. First as an escape from childhood bullies, seeking out beautifully illustrated tomes that would draw me in visually then transport me with words as I cowered among the shelves. Then as I grew older, as  an escape from the every day doldrums that inevitably follow each of us as we fall into routine. Slowly at first, and then more rapidly, these magical vessels for the imagination have made their way into my home and into my heart. My small collection has turned into something akin to a library. I smile every time I move, friends and family heaving and huffing, asking me breathlessly, “What are in these rubbermaids?”, I grin and huff right back, “Just some of my books.” They take up the most space, have absorbed more of my money and occupy more of my time then any other pursuit I have. Which is why I want to dedicate a blog to the adventures I encounter between the pages.

The name of the blog may mean nothing to most people, but it means the world to me. It is a line from one favorite books, from one of my favorite authors, and it marks the first time a book ever made me cry. I had read the first and second book in the series when I was in junior high (out of order I might add), and was very excited when I found the two of them being sold in my local grocery store years later. Low and behold there lay a third book, not new by any means, simply ignored by the ignorance of youth, passed by because I simply hadn’t known to check for more books in a series. Needless to say I snatched all three up and went home to immerse myself. I felt no need to read the first two books, the characters were as familiar to me as if I had read them only hours before. I was disappointed as I read. Where were my characters? Where was the familiar landscape? The messa? The valley and its ring of impassable mountains? But knowing my author, and trusting her love for own creation I kept on. Slowly the old palet returned, new names, new faces, but the same world.

And as we wandered out of the valley, an old friend; but an old friend alone. Mechanical, and immortal, we see Guardian stoic among the bamboo, frozen in time. We pass him, move among the stalks, only to hear a voice creaky and disused “Olwen, is that you?”, we reply in fear ” Who spoke? Where are you?” The voice answers back, full of rust and utter sorrow “You are not Olwen. You are not Olwen!” Not alone in the forest of bamboo, we pan to a grave. The grave of the only thing that gave him meaning, the child grown into a woman, aged unto death, Olwen Pendennis. And inscribed in the stone, words to break a heart, “Where you go I may not follow” That simple passage, the mixture of memory and emotion mingled so delicately together moved me to tears. I couldn’t put it to words, couldn’t even properly understand why, but my heart broke and melted right out my eyes.

Thats what a good book should do, it should move you. It doesn’t have to make you cry, its only happend to me twice, it just has to make you feel something. I’ve yelled at books and had to put them down for a time. I’ve laughed and books and startled friends, family and pets. I’ve been scared by books and needed to leave the light on to sleep. And its these movements, these moments that I want to call into existence here.

Please join me for the journey.

Much love ❤