Only The Beautiful
Momma Leighellen's Book Review

This is a MUST READ for all historical fiction fans! Only The Beautiful was one of my most anticipated books of the year by an author I adore.  And she totally nailed it! My Book Friends Book Club was able to host a zoom with the author when we finishes – I will post the replay here soon!

“How can they decide who should bring children into this world and who shouldn’t?” – Only the Beautiful


This is such a thoughtful work of art.  Author Susan Meissner brings us into the life of a special young girl in the late 1930’s named Rosie, who has a rare gift called ‘synesthesia”, which enables her to see and hear color associated with words and sounds and numbers.  Her parents cherish her gifts but know the outside world may not be kind, so they make her keep it a secret. 

One tragic day, she loses the people close to her and is sent to live with another family.  Unfortunately events lead to her being sent away to an institution, where she is told she is an abomination and she must be sterilized to keep her genes from harming future generations.  

“The human heart isn’t made of stone and wood and brick like the ruins of Europe.”

Meanwhile, a woman named Helen, a relative of the family that took Rosie in, has been living in Europe as a nanny.  She has seen first hand the Nazi treatment of children they don’t consider good enough. 

Susan shares these stories individually at first, which I think really worked for this novel (many historical books vacillate between two POV or timelines). These two stories eventually merge and you will be heartbroken yet filled with hope.


This is a very well researched, informative look at the eugenics program, both in Europe and the US.  It’s simply brilliant how Susan was able to bring these two very different stories together.  But Susan has a way of making the narrative personal.  You will feel ALL THE THINGS – anger, desperation, confusion, despair. Your heart will break for these women but Susan is tender with your heart, too.  Not to be missed!!  

We were able to discuss the book with Susan via Zoom.  I will upload to my Book Tube Channel and add the link to view soon so you can learn more about her research and backstory.

next steps

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