Friday, May 3, 2013

Rachel Simon, I Like You, I Really Like You

I've been preparing for my last book discussion of the season here at the library. Thanks to a recommendation from one of our faithful volunteers, we read The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon. As I perused her biographical information I discovered that this novel came about because of her real life experience as the sister of a woman with learning disabilities. In fact, Ms. Simon had written a non-fiction book, Riding the Bus with my Sister, which is used in classrooms throughout the country as a text.

But it was another one of her titles that caught my eye, loved the title, loved the cover. Yes, readers, you know me well enough to know that I DO often pick up a book based on its cover. Building a Home with My Husband: A Journey Through the Renovation of Love. This was just what the doctor ordered! A real life love story. It didn't disappoint.

It all began with a break-in, Rachel on her way to the airport to deliver a lecture, her husband Hal at work. What started as a minor repair of the broken stairwell door became a tour de force of renovation, a gutting of all the major walls, an opening of space allowing the light to suffuse the little townhome with its warmth. Ms. Simon then plays with this beautiful metaphor throughout her book as she examines the ways in which this project opened her mind and heart, helping her to see relationships through a different lens.

Did I mention that hubby Hal was the architect of this project? It seems that, over the eighteen years of their relationship, Rachel hadn't really given much thought to what Hal does all day, what his work as an artist - as architects surely are - entailed. Because of her writing and lecturing, Rachel was constantly on the road and the pair had settled into a routine and a division of labor that worked for them. Until, that is, the renovation from hell!

I couldn't help but reminisce about last fall when my little guest bedroom was gutted and reborn as a glorious workspace. The idea that someone would love you enough to build with their own hands a desk, a bookcase, is overwhelming. Think how Rachel felt as she watched her home transform. Working together, building a tangible space that draws two people closer together, that pleases the senses. Can it get any better than that?


TooManyBooks said...

I loved "The Story of Beautiful Girl". How did the discussion go?
I thought you'd write about your party and post some pictures!

Sallyb said...

The discussion is next week. I'll let you know. Maybe on Sunday, I'm so overwhelmed with everyone's generosity. Maryellen, your book was so perfect. You're a beautiful friend.