Monday, August 25, 2014

This Or That

"And so we endure.
We have faith that there is purpose.
We hope for things we can't see.
We believe that there are lessons in loss, 
power in love, 
and that we have within us 
the potential for a beauty so magnificent that our bodies can't contain it."
--Amy Harmon, Making Faces

Genre: New Adult Contemporar
Publisher: Smashwords
Pages: 491
Publication Date: October 20th, 2013
Source: Bought
Previous Books in Series: Standalone
Goodreads Description

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.
The Story

It is not a secret that I love Beauty and the Beast...*looks around shamelessly at my blog* it is no surprise that any storyline involving homage to the classic fairy tale is one that I will be drawn to. Jaime over at Fiction Fare tweeted that this book was only 99 cents on Amazon so I read the description and was all, 'okay, is definitely sounds like a book I would like.' And it was. The story is about Ambrose, Fern, and Bailey. Bailey might not be mentioned in the description but he is very much an equal guest in the party of main characters in my opinion. Bailey is has Duchenne Muscular Dystophy, so his muscles will deteriorate over his short life until he dies. I'm not being blunt people, these characters are way more astute about this fact than I could ever be. Fern is Bailey's cousin, best friend, sidekick, confidante, and other half. Fern has also been in love with Ambrose for the greater part of her life. Ambrose is the town real life Hercules and state champion wrestler. Ambrose joins the Army after high school as do is 4 best friends...and he's the only one that makes it back from Afghanistan. *yes, cue the tears already*

This story is about so much it's hard to mentally formulate words to accurately describe what this book represents. It is about loss, in so many different forms. Self-acceptance. Regret. Purpose. Faith. Everything. This book evokes so many feelings over the course of the story that it's hard to pinpoint one thing over another. Ambrose comes back from Afghanistan horribly scared and less 4 best friends and has no idea how to go on. The way Amy Harmon describes his emotional journey is absolutely beautiful. It felt incredibly honest and true to what I would believe would be going on in his head. The equal parts loss of himself and his friends was a constant struggle for him and my heart broke for him.

Fern suffers from UGS...ugly girl syndrome and then becomes not so ugly. She has a fragile friendship with Ambrose prior to him leaving and it's another battle when he comes back for her to get through to him. How they connect to one another is some of the most romantic things ever. It echos something they did in the beginning of the book and it is just so cute. Fern is such a fantastic character, she wasn't over the top in any way with the exception of her hair. She is just a good, good person. An amazing friend, a thoughtful friend. And she's smart! And a writer! She is just a seriously cool girl who I would totally want to be friends with in real life.

The plot of the story begins with Fern and Ambose in high school and a connection...of a sort. It's definitely a case of mistaken identity and I really don't want to say any more than that. Fern has been in love with Ambrose since the moment she saw him and Ambrose runs in a completely different league than her in high school. They are aware of each other and I loved reading about small interactions they had with each other in high school. I loved beyond words Fern's point of view during high school. That longing for a thing you know will never be yours. Broke my heart in more way than one.

Then...then things start to change. Ambrose begins to see Fern in a different way and has no explanation for it. Matters of the heart cannot be explained and the heart wants what the heart wants. But this story isn't that simple. Like I said above, Ambrose is determined to be a soldier and it obviously turns out to have not the greatest results. The repercussions that occur after he comes home blend in perfectly with everything that came before he left. The journey to self-acceptance is not easy and Fern's way of coaxing him out of his cave is just so freaking amazing. I cannot even begin to verbalize the beauty and delicate dance they walk around each other.

But what I loved was this story isn't JUST about Fern and Ambrose. Bailey plays such a huge part in their story as well as Rita, Fern's best friend. It all just comes together to brutally beautiful that your heart just aches with these characters. I cried throughout many parts of the book and I'm sorry this review cannot eloquently do it justice. It's amazing. Simple as that.

The Faith

Like I said above the story has a lot of emotional elements but my favorite aspect was the discussion of faith and purpose the reasons bad thing happen. It wasn't preachy or heavy-handed in the least. It was thoughtful, poignant, and perfectly placed. It made me stop and think about my own life and choices and how I view negative things and the people around me. I felt like there were some fan-f'ing-tastic life lessons in this book without feeling like I was reading one's person vision on life. Does that make sense? Probably not. But I loved this. End of point.

The Feels

You guys, I was crying within like the first 10 minutes because we open up with September 11th. I mean, seriously, way to shred my heart strings. I mean, you guys know I totally love books that make me feel and cry so this isn't a negative...but my face as I'm wiping tears definitely was. I'm such a friggin' sap.

The Distinction

The only thing that bothered me was the assumption that you can only be either beautiful or smart. Ambrose clearly has a very deep soul and is very attractive but all the other characters seem to be able to only represent one or the other objectively. I don't believe that because I know a ton of beautiful and smart people and vice versa. I felt like parts of this book leaned towards having to decide between one or the other. No, not a lot of people are blessed with both but I don't see this as a black or white issue.

If you love Beauty and the Beast, contemporary romances, post-war heroes, thoughtful themes, family love, and a book that makes you feel--this one's for you.

1 comment:

  1. You + Sharon totally convinced me to buy this the other day during a Black Dagger Brotherhood/Fever conversation we were having via Twitter! I can't wait to get to it, especially after you just mentioned that it pays homage to Beauty and the Beast. Perhaps I'll have to take the time to indulge in it this weekend...


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