Monday, August 4, 2014

Review: Making Faces by Amy Harmon

5+ Stars
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.

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My Thoughts; I noticed this book trending and getting rave reviews. I one clicked in on Amazon and let it sit for a little bit. I kept waiting for a low rating, for someone to say the hype was only hype and then I would read it and give my own opinions. Well I never once saw a low rated review (until today, I will come back to it in a bit) and I had it just sitting there so I thought..... maybe it will be me, maybe I will be the one to read it and have to write the dreaded ONE STAR. I was wrong.

I will admit that the beginning of the book was a bit boring for me. We are meeting new characters for the first time and also (for me) a new author. I had to get into the flow of the past/present story line, which for me is a lot of time a huge turn off, before the story really begun to take shape. But all of that aside there was something about it that kept me coming back to read, curiosity maybe? Maybe it was the fact that at the time I had seen only stellar reviews and I just had to see where it was going. When I read reviews I am extremely careful about how much or how many I read. Most of the time I want even read the review itself but only the little "tidbits" a reviewer gives pre-review, so I knew nothing other than what the books synopsis gives away.

This book is told from the third person POV so there is never a singular set of eyes with which we view everything. Every character gets there own piece of the story. I think many people would argue with me on this but I did not read this as a love story, to me that was not the main focus. There is a love story that happens with Fern and Ambrose but the truth is, for me, this story was about heroism and the fact that you don't have to be the strongest or the most handsome to be the biggest hero in someone's life. 

Ok so now that I have made myself teary eyed I need a moment.....

Let's talk about the characters for a bit and I will also be mentioning a couple of points from the low star review I read earlier.

Fern is the awkward girl everyone laughed at in school, she wore thick glasses and braces, she was lanky and not curvy like the other girls. She did not turn the heads of the shallow teenage boys. Fern sees herself as ugly and she thinks everyone else sees her the same way. Especially Ambrose, the most gorgeous boy in school. We all went to school with this boy, all the girls wanted to date him all the guys wanted to be his friend. He was good at everything without even trying. That is Ambrose Young, and he is also the boy Fern has had a crush on since she was 7 years old. She met Ambrose at her cousin Bailey's house. Bailey, who is also Fern's best friend, has a form of MD and by high school has been confined to a wheelchair. Bailey, in my opinion, is the true hero in this story. He has touched the life of every single one of the characters in this story. He is the one who always says the thing that needs saying, he never feels sorry for himself and he would do anything within his power to protect the ones he loves. He is strong, independent, caring and self sacrificing and I love him above all the other characters.

The low star review I read earlier says that Fern's character is an insult to all redheads. I disagree, her red hair and freckles are one reason Fern finds herself unattractive, but they are not THE reason. Her red hair is just another thing about her that is different, and she feels that it sets her apart from the "norm". The same reviewer says that she feels like there is little growth with her character, that she keeps the same schoolgirl crush on Ambrose that she harbored since grade school. This I can sort of agree with. But I can't help but attempt to put myself in her shoes. She has loved this boy, no matter how childishly, all her life. I can see how she would continue to hold those same feelings for him. And the fact that she has basically shut herself off from everyone but Bailey, due to her insecurities, I can see how her character can seem immature. Fern has stayed by Bailey's side their whole lives, if he couldn't - she didn't. It was just the way of things.

This same review calls Ambrose selfish for 'convincing' his friends to join the army with him. I can agree but if you read the book Ambrose himself has this same feeling. But I have to disagree with the 'convincing' part. Those boys went because they chose too. Does Ambrose hold that kind of power of persuasion... of course he does. But the truth is these boys are his closest and most trusted friends and had the roles been reversed I believe he would have gone with them too. This review also mentions the nonchalant way one of the boys says, "Why not? Chicks dig soldiers and I have nothing better to do...." To me this was a typical teenage boy response, especially considering the character who says it.  As I read this review there were lots of points that she made that I can completely agree with. Did I think it before reading her review.... absolutely not. So my advice is to go into this book with a clear head, don't read to many reviews that give away a lot of detail and make up your own mind about it. I am stickler for keeping as much of the storyline out of my reviews as possible, I hate spoilers and I never ever wanna spoil anything.

All that being said, this is one of the best books I have read all year and I will be recommending it to lots and lots of people. If you are looking for a steamy romance, this isn't. If you are looking for a book that puts you behind enemy lines and in the heart of a war zone, this isn't. If you are looking for it to follow Ambrose throughout his recovery after his injury, this isn't it. This book is not about PTSD, I never saw it that way at all and I really don't think the author intended that to be the main focus either. However, if you are looking for a book that will tug at your heartstrings, one that feels "real", one that will most likely stay with you for a long time after you have finished it, then this is definitely a brilliant choice.


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