NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
It is 1968. Lynnie, a young white woman with a developmental disability, and Homan, an African American deaf man, are locked away in an institution, the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded, and have been left to languish, forgotten. Deeply in love, they escape, and find refuge in the farmhouse of Martha, a retired schoolteacher and widow. But the couple is not alone-Lynnie has just given birth to a baby girl. When the authorities catch up to them that same night, Homan escapes into the darkness, and Lynnie is caught. But before she is forced back into the institution, she whispers two words to Martha: "Hide her." 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.
Beth is a spirited woman with an intellectual disability who lives intensely and often joyfully, and spends most of her days riding the buses in Pennsylvania. The drivers, a lively group, are her mentors; her fellow passengers, her community—though some display less patience or kindness than others.
Her sister, Rachel, a teacher and writer, camouflages her emotional isolation by leading a hyperbusy life. But one day, Beth asks Rachel to accompany her on public transportation for an entire year—and Rachel accepts. This wise, funny, deeply affecting book is the chronicle of that remarkable time, as Rachel learns how to live in the moment, how to pay attention to what really matters, how to change, how to love—and how to slow down and enjoy the ride.
Weaving in anecdotes and memories of terrifying maternal abandonment, fierce sisterly loyalty, and astonishing forgiveness, Rachel Simon brings to light a world that is almost invisible to many people, finds unlikely heroes in everyday life, and, without sentimentality, wrestles with her own limitations and portrays Beth as the endearing, feisty, independent person she is.
“With tenderness and fury, heartbreak and acceptance . . . Simon comes to the inescapable conclusion that we are all riders on the bus, and on the bus we are all the same.” —Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean
When Rachel Simon and her architect husband begin to renovate their house on Teacher's Lane, she braces herself for the ups and downs that often accompany such projects. But to her surprise, as the old walls fall and new paint appears, she is propelled into a transformative journey as she confronts forgotten memories and repairs fractured bonds with those closest to her. This compassionate and humorous book shimmers with insights into the healing power of forgiveness, the struggle to find meaning and purpose, the compatibility of imperfection and happiness, and the ways that lost relationships—with friends, parents, siblings, spouse, and even self—can be rekindled.
Fans of Riding the Bus with My Sister and new readers alike will be drawn to Simon's masterful storytelling and profoundly life-affirming tale. Her story will resonate with anyone who's ever experienced the most universal human emotion—love, in its many forms—and wrestled with its hardest questions.
This ebook re-release of The Magic Touch includes a new introduction that should be a must-read for fans of this book and aspiring writers everywhere. It reveals how Rachel stumbled on the idea for the heart of the story, the long journey she took in producing the book, and the kind words given by a respected professor that inspired her, at her lowest moment, to pick herself up and keep going.
The Magic Touch was Rachel Simon’s second book and first novel. It was a 1994 selection of the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers program, which highlights books of exceptional literary quality from authors at the starts of their careers.
Jews lived in Libya for more than two thousand years. As a result of their isolation from other Jewish centers and their extended coexistence with Berber and Arab Muslims, the Jews of Libya were strongly influenced by the manners, customs, regulations, and beliefs of the Muslim majority. The late nineteenth century witnessed a growing European cultural and economic penetration of Ottoman Liibya, which increased after the Italian occupation of Libya in 1911. Italian rule continued until a British Military Administration was established in 1942-43. Libya became independent in late 1951. The changing political regimes presented the Jewish minority with different models of social and cultural behavior. These changes in the foci of inspiration and imitation had significant implications for the position of Jewish women, as Jewish traditional society was exposed to modernizing and Westernizing influences.
Economic factors had a strong impact on the position of women. Because of recurring economic crises in the late nineteenth century, Jewish families became willing to allow women to work outside the home. Some families also allowed their daughters to pursue vocational training and thus exposed them also to academic studies, especially at schools operated by representatives of European Jewish organizations.
Although economic and educational opportunities for women increased, the Jewish community as a whole remained traditional in its social structure, worldview, and approach to interpersonal relations. The principles upon which the community operated did not change drastically, and the male power structure did not alter in either the private or the public domain. Thus the position of women changed little within these spheres, despite the expansion of opportunities for women in education and economic life. Change was slow, evolutionary, and within the framework of traditional society.
Among the highlights are “Little Nightmares, Little Dreams,” in which an elderly couple enters the unknown by trying to dream the same dream; “Paint,” in which a runaway-turned-artist’s-model provokes protests after her naked body becomes the canvas; “Afterglow,” in which a plucky thirteen-year-old playing hooky is held hostage by an escaped convict; “Grandma Death,” in which an overbearing grandmother can’t seem to go anywhere without someone dropping dead; and “Better Than A Box of Dreams,” in which a maid irritated by her boss’s dream therapy sessions dreams her own fondest wish back to life.
Little Nightmares, Little Dreams was presented on NPR’s Selected Shorts and the Lifetime program The Hidden Room. “Paint” and “The Speed of Love” were adapted by the Arden Theatre Company, and “Better Than A Box of Dreams” for InterAct Theatre, both in Philadelphia.
This 2014 ebook rerelease includes four previously uncollected stories. It also includes a new introduction that tells the story of the book’s astonishing path to publication, reveals the inspiration behind several stories, and offers wisdom from a seasoned writing friend that writers everywhere will treasure.
This ebook’s rerelease of The Writer’s Survival Guide includes a new introduction that discusses the origins of the book and how, in spite of the many changes in publishing and technology, it remains relevant today.
One night, Lynnie and her sweetheart, Homan, escape. They find refuge in the farmhouse of the widow Martha, a retired schoolteacher. But the couple is not alone; Lynnie has just borne a child. The authories catch up to them; Homan escapes into the darkness and Lynnie is caught. But just before she is gruffly taken back to The School for the Incurable and Feebleminded, she utters two words to Martha: "Hide her." And so begins the tale of three lives desperate to connect, yet kept apart by seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
Elegantly woven throughout the odyssey are riveting memories of terrifying maternal abandonment, fierce sisterly loyalty, and astonishing forgiveness. Rachel Simon brings to light the almost invisible world of adults with developmental disabilities, finds unlikely heroes in everyday life, and, without sentimentality, portrays Beth as the endearing, feisty, independent person she is. This heartwarming memoir about the unbreakable bond between two very different sisters takes the reader on an inspirational journey at once unique and universal.
Riding the Bus with My Sister was made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie starring Rosie O'Donnell and Andie McDowell, and directed by Anjelica Huston.