Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Young Adult, War, Military
HEART-BREAKING OR HEART-MENDING?
The answer is always the same when it comes to Amy Harmon's books. Both. I am not sure anything I'll say will do justice to Making Faces. It was a contradiction, sunny days swimming in a lake and nights full of nightmares, a song of mourning and hope that stirred a whirlwind of emotions that could be released only through tears, a lament and an ode to beauty. Beauty that can be found within, in caring, and giving and sharing. And honoring those you left behind by living life to the fullest. It was inspirational. Devastating. And undoubtedly, soul-gripping.
“Death is easy. Living is the hard part.”
In a small Pensylvania town, a tight-knit community, remarkable things rarely happened. Until a September morning that paralyzed the U.S.A. and the entire world. The terrorist attack that left ruins, ashes and the blood of innocents was the trigger for Ambrose Young, the most promising wrestler, the pride of Hannah Lake, to be enlisted. To serve his country, and to avoid the burden of everyone's expectations. He didn't leave to war alone. He had his best friends by his side. But he did come back alone. Disfigured, drowning in guilt and sorrow. The man he was Before was gone.
“If God made all our faces, did he laugh when he made me?”
Fern Taylor never stood out. She was just the daughter of the local pastor with fiery hair and a deep love for romances that everyone overlooked. But her heart was full of kindness. Her best friend and cousin, Bailey, was paralyzed due to a rare disease, but that didn't prevent him from enjoying life as best as he could, even though he was aware that death was waiting in the corner. Fern's days were simple. Take care of Bailey, read, write, and love Ambrose Young. Even when he ignored her. Even when was adamant he didn't deserve to be loved.
SORROW OR JOY?
Sorrow and joy, pain and love, all of them are interwined in Making Faces. For there can be no pain and sorrow if you haven't experienced love and joy. That's what Amy Harmon tries to tell, through her deeply endearing characters, the tragedies and the small and big moments of carelessness. Making Faces is not about one love story. It's about many love stories, for love is endless. When I read this book, with reverence, with passion and compassion, I was not Katerina. I was Ambrose. Fern. Bailey. Rita. A mother mourning for her son. A pastor consoling his fold. A town burying her children. All that I was, all that I am, simply ceased to be. Amy Harmon shaped and reshaped me, poured her heart out on my empty canvas, and when my cheeks were wet and my heart slowly shattering, she wiped my tears with a tender caress and sang with a soft voice.
“I wrote your name across my heart,
So we could be together
So I could hold you close to me
And keep you there forever.”
War. Survivor's guilt. Post traumatic stress disorder. Grief. Illness. Death. Pain. Amy Harmon did not spare her characters. As if narrating a tale to a child, she crafted the lives of Ambrose, Fern and Bailey. Ambrose lost his friends. His self-esteem. His face. How do you get used to being ugly, meeting pity when you once were Hercules? When you were admired and worshiped and now you're just a pathetic shadow of your former self? But in his loneliness and devastation, Ambrose got closer to Fern and Bailey, two adorable dorks, the dying boy in the wheelchair and the girl who secretly loved him since they were kids and buried a spider in the yard. Fern thought that she was too plain, too ugly for Ambrose to notice her. Ambrose thought Fern was too good for him. But despite their doubts, a beautiful relationship blossomed between them, with the potential to lead to acceptance. Healing. The concept of beauty was thoroughly explored. Faith was questioned. Why God keeps sharing burdens and illness and death to people who don't deserve them? Are some lives more worthy than others? Are we all a piece of a puzzle, a greater picture we cannot see, or are we simply heading towards the ultimate end with no hope for something more?
UNDERSTANDING OR BELIEVING?
In Making Faces, I understood the insecurities of a plain girl, a former demigod and a wannabe hero. And I believed in friendship. In love. In eternity, the eternity that Amy Harmon gifted with this little blessing, this beautiful and ugly book. I cannot thank you enough, Amy Harmon.
“Victory is in the battle.”