Making Faces by Amy Harmon is one of those books that simply takes over. Reading becomes an experience with books such as this. You become immersed, enthralled, captivated and realize that you are actually feeling with your whole heart. A journey that encompasses your mind and runs with it. Making Faces is a poignant, deeply touching and beautiful tale about where true beauty lies in a person. It’s about real life heroes and what it takes to have insurmountable courage. It’s about friendship, love and how to cope with the loss of both. It is an unforgettable story that will stay with me for quite some time.
Fern Taylor is a sweet, smart and caring young girl with a giving heart. Despite this, Fern is someone who grew up discarded. Aside from her family and her close friends, Fern remained unnoticed by most. Her red curly hair a beacon for homeliness. Her small frame a shining example of what most girls did not want. As the story progresses, we see Fern come out of her invisible shell. She pushes her vulnerabilities aside and decides to go after what she wants. It just so happens that what, or rather who, she wants is someone who doesn’t seem to want anything to do with her.
Ambrose Young is everything that Fern is not. He is popular, unbelievably handsome, an exceptional athlete and it seems as if he has the world in the palm of his hands. When the time for college comes, Ambrose feels that he is not ready for the pressures of college wrestling and being in that lime light. And, Ambrose runs. He decides to enlist in the army and persuades his four closest friends to come along with him. Only the reality of war is one where strong and capable individuals die. Ambrose made it back to Hannah Lake, but he is the only one that returned. With a face that was permanently deformed, Ambrose’s life is forever changed as he wallows in his guilt and hides. The boy wonder once in the spot light now resorts to hiding in the shadows.
If there was one character in this book that stole my heart, it was Bailey. He is Fern’s cousin who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Bailey’s connection with Fern was simply beautiful and my heart literally ached at their unconditional love for one another. Bailey is slowing watching his body shut down but he is determined to live life. He wants to make an impact. He has always looked up to Ambrose seeing him as a hero that can never be defeated. Bailey yearns to experience life, laugh, love and he yearns to be a hero, too.
While this book goes deeper than a simple tale of two people who find love in the midst of adversity, I readily admit that the love story between Fern and Ambrose left me breathless. It beautifully unfolded very gradually and organically never really relying on their physical connection to establish the power of their bond. Fern and Ambrose connected on a much deeper level – one that looked beyond physical appearance and lustful glances. Fern never faltered from her love for Ambrose, even when he came back physically and emotionally transformed. She was simply a girl whose heart longed for its keeper. And, Ambrose....oh my dear Ambrose....he came home so physically flawed, a true monster. He had so much guilt on his shoulders on top of his emotional and physical scars. Fern gave him the peace he was longing for. She touched a part of him that he perhaps believed died along with his best friends. For her, Ambrose wanted to live once again and reach out for happiness and a second chance.
Making Faces is a book that slowly etched its way into the deepest recesses of my heart and refused to let go. This is an achingly beautiful and powerfully told story that had me falling in love with its far from perfect characters. Fern’s feelings of being inconsequential, Ambrose’s heart-breaking suffering and loss, and Bailey’s craving to simply be a hero all touched me deeply. While all three individuals may be physically blemished, the truth of the matter is that they are unique and wonderfully strong. The message is undeniably clear: beauty comes from the inside and strength of character and strength of heart is what makes one truly shine. After reading this wonderfully crafted book, I walk away feeling emotionally wrecked. However, I also walk away feeling inspired.
Making Faces is a book to be read by all and treasured. An emotionally potent tale which calls to the hero in all of us. I adored this book. Thank you Amy Harmon for being brave enough to write a book such as this.
If God made 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 a deaf man to make him more reliant?
Is the way I look a 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?