Thursday, September 5, 2013

Book Review: "Autobiography of a Face"

This week's book review is of  a book I haven't actually finished reading yet, but I've read enough to be able to recommend it. It's called Autobiography of a Face, and it's the memoir of Lucy Grealy. I've been introduced to the book through my Autobiographical Writing class. (try saying that three times fast!)

Find it on Amazon here.

Lucy Grealy was born in Ireland in 1963, and her family came to the U.S. to live when she was four years old. When she was nine, she was diagnosed with a form of cancer called Ewing's Sarcoma, which affected her jaw. Her memoir deals with the experience of losing large portions of her jaw and going through the myriad cancer treatments.


Ewing's Sarcoma has only a 5% survival rate, so just the fact that Lucy survived is a miracle. However, the many, many surgeries and chemo treatments she went through drastically affected the way she saw herself as she grew up. In her memoir she talks about the stares she received anywhere she went, and the mocking that even total strangers would make of her.

In the end, Lucy was able to embrace herself for who she was, challenging our culture's obsession with perfection and deciding to be a beautiful human being regardless of looks. In my opinion, she was gorgeous, inside and out.


Lucy Grealy died in 2002 at the age of 39. But the words and message of her memoir are eternal. It is raw, incisive, grieving, and inspiring. It isn't an easy book to read, but it's a good one. A very very good one. I hope you are able to experience it.

Hanneli



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