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Monday, January 5, 2015

Making Faces by Amy Harmon

Absolutely beautiful! This book is SO MUCH MORE than romance between a boy and a girl. It's an inspirational story that shares truths, life experiences, beliefs, hopes and dreams. There is SO MUCH to this story I honestly don't know where to start. 

While this story generally IS a love story between Ambrose Young and Fern Tyler, it's also the story of Bailey Sheen - Fern's cousin and best friend who suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Bailey is a lot more than just your typical handicapped side character, and he does a lot more than "move the plot". He somehow gives the whole story a frame, a frame in general and also a frame of reference. I truly believe that there are people like Bailey somewhere in the world that inspire the people around them with their optimism and special ability to see the brighter side of life even if it mostly doesn't shine on them or it's just that they see the sun shining more brightly than most of us do and appreciate life more.  Bailey is also a lot more braver than most of us are, I hate to add you into the mix, as I usually don't put words in other people's mouths, I rather say how I personally see it. Yet here, with who Bailey is, and how he acts, I have a feeling he puts to shame all of us with how bravely he lives his life and how much he cares and shows his affection to the people around him. 

Ambrose Young is called "Hercules" for a reason. He is a GREAT Wrestler. He won the championship four times in a row yet fame isn't what he is seeking and quite frankly he is sick of trying to impress other people with his abilities. Wanting to get away for a while, the 9/11 following by a military recruit makes him consider joining the army. But he won't do it all alone so he asks his 4 best friends to join him. A bit reluctant at first they agree. Before Ambrose leaves one of his teachers, a veteran himself, tells him "the lucky ones are the ones who don't return". Well, as Ambrose is the only one who does comes back, deeply scared and full of blame, it seems as the wise teacher was right. 

Fern is a nobody. She is the kind of girl no one sees or thinks about, no one would be interested in the strange ugly Fern, with the big crooked teeth, the red hair and the miniature childish figure. Especially not Ambrose Young whom she has been not so secretly in love with for years. Though she DOES get noticed by him on her senior year, just not exactly as she would have wanted as now he can't stand her and then he is off to war.. leaving an innocent love sick girl behind, one that can't put Ambrose behind her and throws herself into reading and writing romance she has never experienced before. 

Though Fern was a bit TOO innocent in my opinion I felt a strong kinship to her. I wasn't popular as a teenager as well, and could relate to her pain and difficulties. I can't say I have the gold heart that she has.. as with Bailey, I know that there are people like Fern out there, and I respect them beyond words. The friendship and companionship Bailey and Fern hold is the most precious and beautiful relationship I've even stumbled upon. She is truly inspirational in the way she is there for her cousin and later on, how she reaches out to Ambrose, when he isn't the Hercules he used to be - scared and broken - yet for her, he IS the man he used to be, the outside was never "it" for her, it was always WHO he was not the pretty face or the bulging muscles. 

After a chance meeting in the middle of the night Fern realizes she wants to reach out to Ambrose, try to get to the guy he used to be. Not the broken shell who hides in the dark and won't talk to anyone. As Fern is sweet and innocent, so is the way she approaches him even if she doesn't even consider that the friendship between them can make him feel for her as she has been feeling for him. Yet the seeds have already been planted years ago, and as Fern slowly breaks the walls Ambrose put around him, he falls for the beautiful woman that she is. Inside and out. 

There is a lot more to the story than just the two of them (and Bailey), it's somehow a more "general" feel to it, as though it engulfs the small town they live in, the way fame as well as tragedy can mean in a place where you know everybody. It's somehow "collective".

If I was in a state to marker quotes and revelations I would have highlighted the whole book. So many things touched me. Some had a more personal view as memories from my high school days came to me, and some made me think about the world around me, the life I'm living, or other people are living, sacrifices we are willing or unwilling to make. Even handling grief and loss. 

As I started reading this book I often thought it would have been wonderful to read a book like this when I was a sulking kid/teenager. When life made no sense. Back then I used to drown myself in Fantasy books. Living adventures with real heroes who were fierce and strong and rode mighty dragons. I guess it's one way to deal, just "go away" to somewhere safe (well, maybe not to the heroes..), yet this story with the sensitive way it's brought to us, could have been a balm as well, a sort of soft spoken "it gets better" promise maybe because it was innocent as well as sobering. Life and death isn't something we choose and there is a lot more to life than the small things we deal with in our daily lives. 

But just so you'll see I also have quite the superficial side to me - I LOVE the cover. I have a "thing" with covers and this one simply blows me away, I swear I can just keep looking at it for.. hours? I don't know, maybe not hours but definitely for a LONG time. A total and absolute YUM!

I'm going to stop rumbling, so you can go on and get your own copy of "Making Faces" and enjoy it as much as I did. I'll be checking out more by Amy SOON!

Additional Details: Kindle Ebook, 405 pages, 3-5 January 2015 / On GoodReads

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