Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My Hero - A Review of MAKING FACES by Amy Harmon

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.
About Amy:
Amy Harmon is a USA Today, Wall Street Journal and New York Times Bestselling author of eight novels - the USA Today Bestsellers, Making Faces and Running Barefoot, as well as The Law of Moses, Infinity + One, Slow Dance in Purgatory, Prom Night in Purgatory, and the New York Times Bestseller, A Different Blue. Her latest novel, The Song of David, was released on June 13, 2015. 
Amy Harmon knew at an early age that writing was something she wanted to do, and divided her time between writing songs and stories as she grew. Having grown up in the middle of wheat fields without a television, with only her books and her siblings to entertain her, she developed a strong sense of what made a good story. Her books are now being published in several countries, truly a dream come true for a little country girl from Levan, Utah.
Find Amy online:

The Story...

I have to start out by saying that this story is not what I was expecting.  It was so much more.

Awkward wall-flower, Fern Taylor, has been in love with Ambrose Young since they were ten years old and he sang with her at a spider's funeral.  She knew that someone like Ambrose would never look at her the same way.  He was big, and beautiful with the face of a model, and she was...well, unremarkable.  Ambrose was the star of the high school wrestling team and beloved of the entire town.  Fern's posse consisted of her wheelchair bound cousin, Bailey and the beautiful Rita, who once dated Ambrose in high school.

After the attacks on September 11, 2001, Ambrose and his high school friends join the army and were sent to Iraq immediately following boot camp.  They came across a road side bomb that killed all of the boys expect for Ambrose.  While Ambrose's body was mostly unharmed, just some cuts and breaks, his face was severely damaged, losing one ear and eyesight in one eye.

Ambrose returns home and hides from everyone in town.  He feels guilty that he has returned home.  Alone.  He also feels very self-conscious about how scarred he is now.

Unexpectedly, Ambrose reconnects with Fern and Bailey.  Through Fern, Ambrose learns that he can be accepted for who he is, not how he looks or what he can do.  Bailey teaches Ambrose about Faith and accepting the hand that he has been dealt.

What Worked...

The way the story it told it perfect.  The author could have chosen to tell the story from after Ambrose's time in Iraq, with flashbacks to high school happenings, but I think too much would have been lost that way.  We are able to get a full picture of each of the characters.  There are many secondary characters in this story, but the author does a fantastic job of introducing them in a way so that I did not get them confused.  I had a clear picture in my mind of each of the soldiers that died.  I feel like I got to know them and mourned the loss of them in the story.

Bailey's character is simply amazing.  He is one of those people that tells it like it is.  He doesn't hold back.  Even though he is severely limited because of his muscular dystrophy, he doesn't let that stop him from having fun, being a good friend, and living life.  I need a Bailey in my life.  As a matter of fact, the world could really use more Bailey's.

Ambrose and Fern's relationship was unusual and unexpected, for both of them.  It was tentative and fragile at first, but I loved that Fern was able to talk to Ambrose and help him face some truths about his new situation.  There was a sweetness and innocence in their relationship that seemed to make it all the more special.

The author has an amazing way with words.  She is able to make HUGE statements with seemingly very little effort.  I was sharing quotes with my husband left and right as I was reading.

What Didn't...

The cover.  To me, the cover takes away from what this story is about and actually almost kept me from reading the book.

This was an excellent read.  4.5 out of 5 stars for me.

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