I picked up a copy of The Story of Beautiful Girl at the library about a week ago when I was selecting books to take with me on a little road trip, and didn’t know quite what to expect. It’s the story of a girl who lives in an institution—you know—one of those places families used to stick “the feebleminded” before society at large realized that people with special needs have value. “Beautiful girl” or Lynnie spends most of her growing up years at this school and ends up escaping for a few days with another student so that she can give birth to and hide the baby that she is carrying. She ends up being caught, but not before she is able to hide her day old baby with an old woman who gave her shelter. The story follow Lynnie, her fellow escapee, and the old woman for the next thirty years as she raises the baby and as Lynnie grows older and wonders how her little daughter fared.
This book could have been terribly graphic and depressing, but it turned out to be a wonderfully well written and inspiring story. As the story progresses the reader is able to follow specific stories, as well as America’s story related to people with disabilities. It’s really amazing how far our society has come with how we view people who are deaf, mute, autistic, physically disabled, and people with other special needs.
It’s funny that I picked this book up when I did, because Andrew has been reading about eugenics in one of his classes, so we’ve had several lively discussions about it, including forced sterilization of people who were once considered “feeble minded”. It’s also funny that this book comes on the heels of my trip to Malawi where I encountered so many of the attitudes that are discussed in the book. My trip and this book really forced me to take a good look at my attitude and views of people with special needs; not all of them were pretty or correct, but I’m so glad that God chose to confront me the way He did.
I would really encourage you to read this book. It’s really good!