Saturday, February 15, 2014

Making Faces by Amy Harmon

Amy Harmon
Summary via Goodreads:
"Ambrose Young was beautiful. He was tall and muscular, with hair that touched his shoulders and eyes that burned right through you. The kind of beautiful that graced the covers of romance novels, and Fern Taylor would know. She'd been reading them since she was thirteen. But maybe because he was so beautiful he was never someone Fern thought she could have...until he wasn't beautiful anymore.
Making Faces is the story of a small town where five young men go off to war, and only one comes back. It is the story of loss. Collective loss, individual loss, loss of beauty, loss of life, loss of identity. It is the tale of one girl's love for a broken boy, and a wounded warrior's love for an unremarkable girl. This is a story of friendship that overcomes heartache, heroism that defies the common definitions, and a modern tale of Beauty and the Beast, where we discover that there is a little beauty and a little beast in all of us."

This book was really, really good. I got teared up more than once. The characters are great, the story is both heartbreaking and fuzzy. There are many inspirational messages in this book as well. It's just an all around wonderful story. I have never read a book so quickly. I think I finished this book in less than 3 hours from start to finish.. and that was with a mini break to put my son to bed.

I loved all the characters, and the story felt so real. Probably because the author used an actual event that I went through with the rest of the country when I was in high school [The world trade center attack](only I was a Freshman and the characters were Seniors)  But still, I was there with the characters. Everything about this story felt so real so when tragedy struck, and boy did it strike a lot, I cried and I'm not usually one to cry reading a book. And I am glad to announce that for a contemporary romance novel, this was one of the least cliched books I've read in that genre.

I must admit that I could really relate to Fern Taylor. I was pretty anonymous in high school as well (although I kind of liked it). But while I never really thought myself a great beauty, I also didn't think I was ugly either more of a 'middle of the road' kind of girl. Or "one of the guys" as I was so often told. But I relate to how she felt because I was there the wanting someone to that wasn't your parents to think you are pretty, the feeling lonely and uncomfortable in your own skin. It took me a long time to get away from that mindset.
The big difference is that Fern is nicer than I am while she took her 'ugly duckling' status and just rolled along with life, helping take care of her cousin and best friend Bailey, who suffered from muscular dystrophy and is bound to a wheelchair.

Now that character, Bailey Sheen, son of the town wrestling coach. He only had Fern. Bound to a wheel chair since he was 11 and the knowledge that he probably wouldn't make it to 25. But he was so full of live and positiveness. Kind of makes us "normal" folk feel like a bunch of jerks when we complain about getting a splinter or something stupid like that. He is the most inspirational fictional character I have ever encountered. And my favorite character in this book.

Ambrose, not your typical brooding male character in one of these books. He is smart, nice to just about everyone, and good at sports. A jock that isn't a jerk, those are more common in smaller schools. His mother had an affair with an Italian underwear model resulting in the pregnancy that brought along Ambrose. His mother's husband, Elliot Young, adopted Ambrose even though his wife cheated on him. (not many men would do that), and when Ambrose's mother left town he stayed with Elliot. There is a lot to say about Ambrose Young.

The story is told in third person jumping from events that happened when they were kids to the present and then from the "present" of life after Ambrose came back to some events that happened when he was still overseas giving us a peek at what they were up to.

This book needs to be read by everyone. Such a good book, amazing characters. Just keep a box of tissue near by.

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