Publication Date: 2013
Genres: Coming of Age, Fiction
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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.
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Here are just five of the reasons I LOVED this book:
#1: The writing
First, let me say that Amy Harmon is a poetic goddess. Her character-driven stories are so layered and so moving. Her imagery is vivid and full of depth, as are her strong and intelligent characters. There isn’t much I wouldn’t read if it were written by Amy Harmon.
#2: The story
I loved this book because it is a unique story, flawlessly written and beautifully told from the first page. Like a lot of Amy Harmon’s books, Making Faces is both sweet and bittersweet. It is full of heartache, unimaginable loss, and ultimately, redemption. It also challenges you to think about what it means to be a hero. While some are reluctant heroes, put on a pedestal by others with high expectations, some are unexpected heroes. It asks questions like ‘can humans be like comic book heroes?’
#3: The characters
The characters in this book are so endearing. You can’t help but fall in love with them. They are real, true, and relatable. Fern, the main character, is a quirky ugly duckling (who, of course, turns into a swan). She wants to be a romance novelist, but has little experience with real-life romance. Her side-kick is the amazing Bailey, who is wise beyond his years. Born with muscular dystrophy, he is confined to a wheelchair, but that doesn’t stop him from living life to the fullest.
And then there is Ambrose. He is the hometown hero and wrestling star. He feels enormous pressure to live up to the expectations of perfection everyone in his community has for him. On the heels of the 9/11 tragedy, he talks his best friends into joining the military with him. Unfortunately, he is the only one to return home. Ambrose is not only severely injured, he is also reeling from the guilt.
#4: The emotions
Each of the characters and their experiences felt real. It perfectly captures the emotions of love, friendship, compassion, and courage. The story stuck with me when I would try to put it down. The epilogue was perfect, because by the end, I was emotionally wrung out.
#5: It perfectly captures the feelings of 9/11
The feelings of September 11, 2001 are so vividly and accurately portrayed. If you are old enough to remember when it happened, then you may also remember the intense sense of loss and patriotism the country experienced. Ambrose’s decision to enlist was a scene that actually played out in schools around the country. So many wanted to enlist to fight the battle we were sure to be entering.
So, there you have it. If you haven’t read Making Faces yet, I hope this has helped sway you to put it on the top of your #TBR pile. It is a MUST READ for any book reader, regardless of genre.