Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Amy Harmon - Making Faces

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.

Comment: I knew about this book because of one of my book clubs. This was th book chosen for this month and despite not being something I usually go to, it has YA parts included, I still decided to honor the commitment and give it a try. I'm glad I did because the story is very good.

Ambrose Young has it all, he's gorgeous, friendly, successful and popular in his high school. After 9/11 and a fright he wasn't counting on, he looks at his life and thinks he must do something, so when school ends, he convinces his 4 best friends to join the army. But the outcome isn't perfect at all.
Fern Taylor has had a crush on Ambrose since he helped her and her cousin to bury a spider. But when she tries to help a friend to conquer him through an old fashioned letter exchange, she couldn't imagine the lessons and struggles she would face for him and with him...

I really liked this story, much more than what I imagined. It has some YA parts but thankfully those aren't about love ever after. I have a hard time believing the forever kind of love in young adults who don't always - if ever - weight in what true love and dedication entails. Anyway, that didn't happen here, although there's a start up base to the rest of the story which we see in the beginning.

The majority of the story is what everyone now says is new adult. Ambrose and Fern are young when their story happens, but I have to say there are mitigating reasons for why their story feels mature and well thought, opposed so many YA novels out there.

Fern has always took care of her cousin Bailey, who was born with a disease that makes it impossible to walk or to even move his arms. She has an old view of the world with reality so obvious in her life. The fact she isn't beautiful like most people also helped her to construct an idea of herself which stopped her from being vacant and self absorbed. So, in a way, she's mature for her age. And she likes o read, so...
Ambrose has a loving father, who isn't his biological father but that doesn't stop him from recognizing the good man he is and how lucky he is to have him and to have his support. Of course, this shaped his view of the world but he isn't an angry, impulsive guy. He tries to be fair and do the right thing. I think he felt a bit too perfect at times, but his impulsive action made things so uncomfortable and wrong that it's almost like he is paying for the time he didn't think things all the way. Although this can be debated, after all, serving one's nation is seen as something worthy.

It's obvious there's a lot of tears on this book's path and be prepared for it. I think the author was very clever because she dosed the emotion and the negativity very well, in a way that wasn't over the top and too hard to overcome. Things hurt and things are bad here and there, but there's this sense of optimism and the reader kind of gets ready to see it happen because the plot makes it happen that way. So, despite the huge avalanche of emotion, it's not unbearable because of the good things we see happening and being told a lot of the time.

There are some ideas about beauty and worth and how one can be what one needs instead of just being what other think. I liked the ideas inserted in to the plot quite a lot, and also how they were dealt with.

The romance is cute. It starts innocent, letters exchanging, sort of, and their personality complement each other When it has to, the support they both take from the other helps them appreciate what they were given, especially Ambrose. I think the HEA was believable and the focus was mostly on the sweetness and the friendship. The epilogue is full of hope and the stamp of approval for their relationship. But the actual story isn't rushed or too sugary.

I liked the story and despite my tears and personal little ideas about what to change, I can't say the author didn't do a good job, because she did. I feel humbled when I get a book I thought I wouldn't enjoy much, but end up liking a lot after all, even more so when it has elements I usually can't stand (like YA). This happened here and I'm quite glad to have read it. The writing feels a bit young at times, but I guess it's part of the whole deal. In the end, it had strength and a purpose, it worked out really well. Very good story!
Grade: 9/10

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