Making Faces by Amy Harmon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Ambrose Young was beautiful. 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.
I dropped all other books when this showed up on my shelf. I've read this book three times and every time I'm a snotted mess at about 72 percent until the end of the book. This book is one that resonates in your soul and doesn't let go. It hangs on, it's one that you recommend to your friends, family and everyone in-between. I love it and hate it at the same time because I know I won't be able to breathe the next day. Amy Harmon has done something that not many authors do - she tells a story without explicit sex or language. She tells a story and keeps it going til the very last page and you're sitting there with a feeling of loss, strength, hope and love. I bought this book for my mother when it came out to read. My mother is someone who only reads Christian books but yet I wanted her to read this so bad. This book has some Christian scripture and references, it does have some language but not a lot. I bought it in hope that she would see past it and boy did she. She loved this book and for my mother to give her stamp of approval on a book, it means the world. I read this book in about 5 hours and didn't stop. That means radio silence for everyone and I was on-call.
This book is about Fern, Ambrose and Bailey (Oh Bailey, how I love you!!) and it goes back and forth through their childhood. I loved all these characters, there wasn't one of the main characters that I could say I didn't like. I loved Brosey's (Ambrose's) friends, even Beans. This book was a tearjerker. It was heartbreaking and tore at your heartstrings. Bailey has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and it can't be cured and the first time he finds out he's going to die, I thought I was going to go through a whole box of Kleenex so I cut up an old t-shirt and used it instead. To listen to Fern tell him she might die first by getting hit by a car while walking down the road to make him feel better is so real to life. She starts listing all the ways she might die first to make him feel better. How we all need a Fern!! She is his person. She's his helper but also his cousin who I honestly believe God sent to him and you find out at the end of the story that her father always believed that once Bailey was gone God would take Fern soon after because of it. It's a sad thought to think that God would do that and he's a pastor but he does. Fern always has Bailey's best interests at heart and always helps him and he is one of those characters you can't help but love. He's all about wrestling and wanting to wrestle but he's also all about Ambrose and helping him become a better person and wrestler. Bailey is really the hero in this story. Hands down, this book wouldn't be what it is if not for Bailey.
Fern is an ugly-duckling and she's never the one that the boys look at. She writes letter to Ambrose for her friend Rita who's beautiful, even though she's always been in love with him. Ever since he helped her bury BS "Beautiful Spider" and sang the "Itsy Bitsy Spider" at it's funeral when they were ten. She's a deep character who writes the most eloquent poetry that says:
If God makes all our faces, did he laugh when he made me?
Does he make the legs that cannot walk and eyes that cannot see?
Does he curl the hair upon my head 'til it rebels in wild defiance?
Does he close the ears of the deaf man to make him more reliant?
Is the way I look coincidence or just a twist of fate?
If he made me this way, is it okay to blame him for the things I hate?
For the flaws that seem to worsen every time I see a mirror,
For the ugliness I see in me, for the loathing and the fear?
Does he sculpt us for his pleasure, for a reason I can't see?
If God makes all our faces, did he laugh when he made me?
How many times have we all looked in the mirror and thought this? It's like the author reached inside my very soul and knew what I felt and how long I'd been feeling it. Those words I will have written on a plaque and framed, so I can read them everyday and know that I'm more than a face. This book just has all the feels!!
There's a scene in the book that I love where Fern refers to Bailey as BS like the spider but calls him "Beautiful Sheen, Beautiful Bailey Sheen" and it's at a part in the book that I'm not going to give away but I had to get up and take the dogs out...at 4 a.m. because I couldn't breathe from crying. I literally was like "NOPE...can't handle no more snot, gotta get up and find something cause I'm dying here." And then I went right back to the book of the best night of my weekend.
You come to love all the characters in this book but one. Ambrose's friends: Beans, Paulie, Grant and Jesse - You love them all in their differences. It's not an easy story to read about them. It's about September 11th, the fallout afterward and 5 boys who join up to make a difference not knowing that the difference will be made in 4 families and a whole town.
There was a lot going on in this book but I didn't feel at any time that I didn't know what was going on. I always felt like everything was explained. There were some really hard topics in this book: War, domestic abuse, dying, peer pressure, ugliness of the world and of oneself, terrorism. It's all in there and it's dealt with appropriately.
Buy this book, buy it for your friends, family and gift it to people you love. It's an awesome book and has made me read all of the authors books since. You will not be disappointed you read it and if you are, then you're not human...you just can't be!! I will guarantee that a part of this book will resonate with you somewhere unless you're a sociopath and then it probably won't!
I was given a copy of this ARC from the publisher on Netgalley for a honest review. All of the above comments are my express opinions and no one else's.
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