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.
It’s a rare occurrence to find a book that moves me beyond words. I read a lot of incredible books that blow me away and reiterate why I love reading so much. But Making Faces is more than just an incredible book. It’s one of those stories that grabs ahold of your heart and never lets go. It’s a poignant, heartbreakingly remarkable story of love, loss, and finding the beauty within.
Fern is the awkward girl, the one that people don’t even give a second glance. With her curly red hair, thick glasses, braces on her crooked teeth too big for her mouth, and her boyish figure, she learned at an early age that she wasn’t the definition of a pretty girl. But although she wasn’t outwardly pretty, she was absolutely radiant on the inside. Her sheer selflessness and nurturing towards Bailey was heartwarming, and their relationship was endearingly perfect.
Bailey is one of the best characters to ever grace a book’s pages. I love Fern and Ambrose, but it was Bailey that absolutely stole my heart. Being confined to a wheel chair due to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, he has learned to live life with a “no regrets” mentality. His humor and ability to see the positive and accept the negative was magnificently eye opening. This is a boy who could easily hate the world for his disease, and instead has decided to live each moment to the fullest. He is one of those characters that makes you view the world with new eyes. I just absolutely adored him and the way he looked up to Ambrose, his very own Hercules.
Ambrose – the town’s golden boy. He’s gorgeous, muscular, brave, kind, and a state champ wrestler. He’s the boy that Fern has been in love with since grade school. After the attacks of 9/11, Ambrose tosses his dreams of becoming a college level wrestler out the window and enlists in the military – convincing his four best friends to come along with him. When an accident leaves him physically and emotionally scarred, he retreats into himself upon returning home. Until Fern shows him that physical beauty is only skin deep; real beauty is the heart and soul of the person inside.
I was a little nervous to read this book. The swarm of unsurmountable praise I saw on Goodreads put certain expectations in my mind and eventually I started to ask myself, “What if I built this book up to high? What if I expect so much that even if it’s great, it still won’t live up to what I am expecting?” So I put it on my TBR and I waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, I was caught up on all my ARC reading, and scoured my bookshelf for a “me read.” My eyes kept going back to Making Faces, and I decided it was finally time to experience this book that everyone was positively raving about all over social media sites.
My expectations were not only met, but so far exceeded that I couldn’t even see them anymore. I had a feeling this book would touch me, I just had no idea how deep that feeling would go. I cried…and cried…and cried. And I’m not just talking a few tears – I’m talking full on ugly sobbing to the point where I had to stop reading and compose myself before I could keep going. Through the tears and the heartbreak in this novel, I laughed out loud and felt my heart swell with sheer happiness.
If I could recommend one book for absolutely everyone to read, it would be Making Faces. As a society, I think we could all benefit from the beautiful messages throughout this novel. There is so much emphasis placed on body image and what makes a person pretty that we often forget to look at the person underneath; looks fade, but inner beauty remains. Amy’s writing is absolutely superb, and will have you lingering on every single chapter, page, and word. She has created a cast of characters that make you just plain feel; these characters will make you wish you had a Fern, or a Bailey, or an Ambrose in your life. And who knows, if you’re lucky…maybe you already do.
MY RATING: 5 STARS