Reading Questions for The Story of Beautiful Girl
1. What did you learn that you didn't already know about the history of people with disabilities and the ways in which they were routinely treated by society? What did you learn about how people with disabilities might live today? Consider the lives of people you know who have a disability. Did the experiences of Lynnie and Homan change or shed light on your understanding of them?
2. Martha's former students provide her with support for the first several years of Julia's life. Was there a teacher in your life who meant as much to you as Martha meant to her students?
3. Why do you think Martha takes on the incredible responsibility of raising another woman's child instead of contacting proper authorities? What would you have done in her place?
4. At the time when Lynnie was a child, it wasn't uncommon for parents to place their children with disabilities in an institution. Do you know anyone who had a child who was like Lynnie at that time? What choice did they make for their child, and how did that decision play out in their lives?
5. Kate breaks rules for Lynnie, doing such things as letting her draw pictures in her office and giving her a private place to see Buddy. When is it appropriate for professionals to go against official policy?
6. Lynnie does not want Kate to go in search of the baby and Kate says she will honor Lynnie's wishes. What do you think of Kate's decision to do this? Kate also secretly goes against Lynnie's wishes but does not tell her. Is this the right thing to do?
7. Homan is up against incredible odds in making his way in the world, especially once his uncle Blue dies. Discuss the way that race, impairment, illiteracy and institutionalization play a part in how he interacts with the world and how the world reacts to him.