Lynnie is a mentally disabled girl with the misfortune of having been born at a time when people like her were routinely sent to live in institutions. Homan (or Buddy) is a deaf black man who, when caught by the police after a crime, is considered “feeble-minded” due to his inability to communicate and is also sent to the same institution. Since no one knows his name, he is called 42. Lynnie and Homan fall in love and, as the novel opens, a pregnant Lynnie and Homan escape and seek refuge in the home of a retired teacher. They are tracked down and separated that same night, but Lynnie’s daughter is kept secret and raised by the old woman who took them in. The ways their separate lives unfold afterwards provides the basis of the novel. The nearly forty year journey back to each other is backgrounded by massive changes in the way the disabled are treated and the eventual closure of the institution. Simon writes with expert knowledge of people like Lynnie and Homan (her sister was never put in an institution and was the subject of SImon’s first book “Riding the Bus with My Sister”). She gives her characters strong, memorable voices and complicated inner lives. The novel never dips toward sentimentalism, but rather remains a character-driven, thoughtful story of sometimes brutal, sometimes hopeful places, difficult choices, and enduring love.