Monday, April 16, 2018

Audiobook Review: Making Faces by Amy Harmon

Pub. Date:March 19, 2014
Publisher:Tantor Audio
Narrators:Rob Shapiro
Length:6 hrs 33 min
Source:Audible Romance

This is a book from my blogger shame pile that I got from NetGalley some time ago. I actually picked it up and put it down a couple times due to the age of the characters. I am not much of a young adult reader and I didn't realize that this was a young adult coming-of-age type novel. I generally like Amy Harmon, so I didn't want to write the story off so it has sat out there lingering for a while. But when I saw that it was available on Audible Romance, I decided to give it another shot. I'm glad I was listening while I was at home, as there was definitely some ugly crying and tissues needed for this one.

Ambrose Young was the small town golden boy. Between his good looks and his athletic prowess, Ambrose was easily a member of the "in" crowd and received all the perks that had to offer. As a high school student when 9/11 happened, Ambrose's thoughts turned from college and wrestling to bigger things. He was inspired by an Army Recruiter and heads off to war with his 5 buddies... but returns alone and disfigured. Ambrose then must learn to live with his new self and overcome his survivor's guilt.

Fern Taylor has always been a petite an unremarkable girl. With her small stature, frizzy red hair and freckles, she gave off the vibe of an ugly duckling. She lived life on the the fringes of the popular crowd, usually tagging along with her cousin, Bailey. But Fern was a genuinely good person. She took care of Bailey (who had Muscular Dystrophy), supported her best friend Rita to her (Fern's) own detriment, and brought the wounded soldier back into the light. She never complained or tried to put herself first. It almost seemed like Fern was born to fill a supportive role and never take the limelight. She had major self-image issues that I hated, but understood. Her dedication and selflessness was humbling. I do wish there would have been some ambition for Fern though - I didn't like that there was zero discussion of her plans or aspirations beyond high school. I almost don't feel like that is realistic for this day and age (going back to even the early 2000s when this story took place).

While the blurb made me think this story would be focused on Ambrose... I felt that it was more a coming-of-age for Fern. She stuck out more in my minds eye than Ambrose did. However, the story was also balanced by some of the secondary characters. Bailey was an inspirational aspect - and I loved his personality and attitude in light of his disability. But we also got glimpses into Rita's life, and how her reality did not live up to the expectations she had in high school.

This was not a happy story - and I found myself ugly crying for a good portion of the end. It was heartfelt and poignant, and I'm glad I finished it. Again, I'm not a huge fan of young adult stories so I think I would have enjoyed it more if the characters were older... but the writing was good and on par with Amy Harmon's other works. I didn't quite get the Beauty and the Beast aspect. I think that mention gave me unrealistic expectations for the story.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes coming-of-age stories and ugly cry books.

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