• Natasha Lockhart

Making Faces by Amy Harmon

Updated: Jan 30, 2020

Does He sculpt us for His pleasure, for a reason I can't see? If God makes all our faces, did He laugh when He made me?

Unless you won the DNA lottery and were blessed with drop-dead gorgeous physical features, you will identify with the lead characters in this novel. Fern is no great beauty as a teenager. She's petite with wiry red hair and braces on her crooked teeth. I never got the sense that she was ugly, just a Plain Jane. Ambrose possesses the beauty of a Greek god. He's tall, muscular, and handsome. In high school, he naturally gravitated toward her attractive friend until he discovered the words written in the love letters to him are actually Fern's words.

After high school, Ambrose and four of his friends join the National Guard. During their first tour of duty, his friends are killed in Iraq. Ambrose suffers severe damage to his face. {Side note: Why are scarred heroes in romance novels always described as having a Phantom-of-the-Opera face? What's up with only one side of the face being damaged?} He returns home angry that he lived while his friends died. It was jarring to see the shift in the two main characters. Ambrose is now the beast, and Fern has blossomed into an attractive young woman. I was pleased the author allowed Fern and Ambrose to have a romantic moment before he went off to war. That quickly shut down any nagging doubt that he would only fall for her later because she was now the best he could do.

"Why do you only kiss me in the dark?" Fern repeated, her voice small and tight, as if she were trying to prevent her feelings from leaking around the words. "Are you ashamed to be seen with me?" . . . "No, Fern. I'm not ashamed to be seen with you. I'm ashamed to be seen."

These young people are not the typical young adults I've read about in YA fiction. At an age when they should have all been in college enjoying their sophomore year, they're still in the small town they grew up in dealing with very serious issues: unplanned pregnancy, domestic abuse, muscular dystrophy, impending death, and grief. As much as I adored Fern and Ambrose, I LOVED Bailey who was suffering from MD. I wish he'd been given a sweetie to love because he surely deserved one. He was wise beyond his years and a true friend to Fern and Rita.

"God has given you one face and you make yourself another."-Hamlet

There is a religious undercurrent to the plot, but the story isn't annoyingly preachy IMO. Fern is a pastor's daughter. Faith is something that comes up when the characters speak of the higher power that helps them through the tough moments. There are no in-your-face, holy roller monologues or dialogues.

There are moments that will make you smile, hold your breath, and cry. The poem Fern writes is simply beautiful. There are Shakespeare quotes that are exchanged. The song Paulie sings is also touching. This book and "My Life Next Door" are the best Young Adult/New Adult romances I've ever read and the only ones I'd recommend so far.

#makingfaces #amyharmon

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