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.
Wow. This book is absolutely, completely and utterly stunning!! I feel a little spaced out right now, having just put this down and come back down to earth.
5+ STARS FOR FERN, AMBROSE AND OF COURSE, BAILEY!
Fern Taylor isn’t pretty. She’s got frizzy, untameable red hair, buck teeth, thick glasses and freckles. She’s been in love with Ambrose Young forever. But she knows she isn’t pretty.
She’s not pretty. Little, funny Fernie. She’s not pretty. Poor Fernie.
Bailey Sheen, Fern’s cousin, has muscular dystrophy. He’s wheelchair bound by the age of twelve, is unlikely to make it to his twenty first birthday and he and Fern are joined at the hip. He’s also the high school wrestling coach’s son.
“Your dad says that ’cause he loves you. Just like my mom tells me I’m pretty ’cause she loves me. I’m not pretty…and you can’t beat Ambrose, buddy.”
Ambrose Young is beautiful, strong, talented, athletic, everything Fern and Bailey aren’t. And Fern’s pretty sure that most of the time, he doesn’t even know she exists.
When Ambrose and his four friends go off to war, instead of him taking advantage of the wrestling scholarship and heading off to college like everyone expects of him, the town of Hannah Lake is shocked. But not as shocked as when he returns without his four friends, scarred, inside and out and a shadow of the town’s handsome hero they once knew.
“The lucky ones are the ones who don’t come back.”
It’s the beginning of February and I’ve already given out two 5+ Star ratings! That’s crazy and testament to the abundance of fantastic, heart stealing stories around right now. And both of those 5+’s have been for stories about war heroes. Making Faces andFighting Redemption. But both books are so totally different!
Where do I even begin trying to review this book? I’ve had it on my Kindle for a while now, and so many of you have nagged at me to get on and read it and thank you, to all those who suggested I read it. I am head over heels in love with this book!
It’s one of those that completely sucks you in from the minute you start reading. One of those where you feel like you really know these characters, their homes, their personalities, their families, their mannerisms… etc. It’s a book that you will read until your eyes feel scratchy and sore and you know you aren’t going to be able to wake up to your alarm! But you just don’t care because you feel like you can’t get enough of the story and can’t get close enough to these characters.
I had such strong visuals of things like the bakery where Ambrose worked, the store where Fern worked, the high school where they all attended. I just love when a story grabs me like that and doesn’t let me go until the last page. I feel like I’ve lived this story for the past two days.
Now, Making Faces deals with some pretty dark, heavy subject matters, but there was something about it that made it feel very YA to me. The innocence of Fern, the flashbacks to their childhood, the growing up, the high school scenes. Even though this story spans over a large number of years, beginning with flashbacks when they characters are very small children, it had a real YA style to it. In that way it put me in mind of books like The Sea of Tranquility and Hopeless.
Speaking of which. There is no sex in this book. None. Don’t read this expecting any literary romps. There is a gorgeous build up between Fern and Ambrose which will give you a warm, fuzzy feeling in the pit of your stomach and make you melt, and to be honest, that was more than enough. Trust me when I say that you will not miss the sex. This book is classy and a cut above most, and it just doesn’t need it.
Let’s talk characters…
Fern. I LOVE Fern! She is our ugly duckling. She is absolutely, one of the best female leads I’ve ever read. She is everything our heroines shouldn’t be. She’s dorky, she’s plain looking, she’s a bookworm, she’s openly obsessed with our hero and she is just great.
“Fern has Ugly Girl Syndrome.” Bailey said, out of the blue. “Also known as UGS … She grew up thinking she was ugly. She doesn’t realize that she shed the ugly a long time ago. She’s beautiful now. And she’s just as pretty on the inside, which is a side benny of UGS.”
Fern is one of life’s really good people. She cares for Bailey, chauffeurs him around, helps him scratch his nose when he has an itch and just generally adores him. It’s definitely one of all time favourite non-romantic relationships from a book.
I loved that our loveable little ugly duckling turned into a swan but didn’t change at all. I loved that she was so honest and awkward. If she was feeling something she’d just come right out and say and then get all embarrassed, which was super cute.
“I promised myself that if you came home I wouldn’t be afraid to tell you how I felt. But I’m still afraid. Because I can’t make you love me back.”
She tries so hard to be brave and not let the fact that she isn’t pretty affect her, but oh goodness, what girl is capable of that? We’ve all been there. We’ve all felt less than perfect and I’m pretty sure every woman, even the most beautiful, will know that feeling of not being good enough. Poor, poor Fern.
If God makes all our faces, did he laugh when he made me?
Bailey, Fern’s wheelchair bound cousin, is a huge part of this story.
His dry wit, honesty and acceptance of his lot in life were refreshing and eye opening. It’s just adorable, the relationships he has with Fern, with his life-long crush, Rita, with the wrestling team and then specifically with Ambrose. Equally, the acceptance that he will never love and be loved, that he will never reach adulthood and that he will one day soon be buried next to his grandparents is cripplingly sad.
“Main characters never die in books. If they did, the story would be ruined, or over.”
“Everybody is a main character to someone. There are no minor characters.”
And then there is Ambrose. Ambrose Young. The perfect guy. The wounded hero. The beauty and the beast of this story. I love him. So much. I can’t even explain to you how much I love Ambrose Young!!
“Do you think there’s any way someone like Ambrose could fall in love with someone like me?” Fern caught Bailey’s gaze in the mirror again, knowing he would understand.
“Only if he’s lucky.”
Ambrose’s journey is incredibly moving. This isn’t a story of a guy turning from an arrogant jock into a humble fallen soldier. Ambrose has a big heart from the very beginning. However, this story illustrates how we take so many things for granted. Ambrose was beautiful, he was successful, he was strong, he was loved, he was confident. And all of that, he took for granted, every day, until the day he wasn’t all of that any more. And it was so heart breaking to watch him struggle with that realisation.
“News flash, Fern Taylor! Everything has changed! You are beautiful, I am hideous, you don’t need me anymore, but I sure as hell need you!”
And the development of Ambrose and Fern’s relationship was gorgeous! This was a slow, steady build. Two young people who knew what it was like to feel unwanted, shy, ugly. Both unsure. Both scared. Both having been through things in life that put them in a position where they could appreciate what was really important. Nothing is rushed, there is no insta-love, no fantastical alpha male shows, no stereotypical romance novel cliches. Their relationship is original and beautiful, and so pure and believable. I wanted it for them so much!
“I want your body. I want your mouth. I want your red hair in my hands. I want your laugh and your funny faces. I want your friendship and your inspirational thoughts. I want Shakespeare and Amber Rose novels … And I want you to come with me when I go.”
I highlighted so many quotes from this book. The writing is just to die for. I’m now really looking forward to reading another of Amy Harmon’s books that I’ve had on my TBR for ages, A Different Blue. I think that this lady is going to be huge! There is one part of Making Faces where Ambrose and Fern are writing love letters to one another, which is just too cute. And the whole book is just full of so many thought provoking, heart warming sentiments. I love that. It’s cleverly thought out, well written and flawlessly executed, with a whole host of catalytic events, over many years, that give us the consequences that make up Fern and Ambrose’s story.
Everybody who is somebody becomes nobody the moment they fail.
The book really gets deep on you. It deals with questions as great abd unanswered as the meaning of life. Why are we here? Why do some of us live and some of us die? Why are some of us made to be beautiful and some of us made to be ugly? Is there a reason or is it all just down to chance? Is there a God? Is there an afterlife? It’s profound and hard hitting. Part of it made me feel extremely shallow and guilty. And I loved that. Iwant a book to make me question the way I go about my life, what’s really important and whether or not I am a good person. That takes some doing, and that was one of the many things I absolutely revered about this book!
“If God saved my life, why didn’t he save their lives? Is my life so much more valuable? So I’m special… and they’re not?”
As a final note, I feel the need to warn you, you will cry whilst reading Making Faces. The story of Fern and Ambrose includes a lot of loss and a helluva lot of heartache. And when I say that, at some points, I could literally feel my heart aching for them. I tried to read part of this book in hairdressers. Stupid! I had to put it down before people realised that I was a total fruitloop! It’s as tragic as it is wonderful! But it’s so real. I cried buckets!
“Shakespeare said, ‘the robbed that smiles steals something from the thief.”
I could go on and on about the abundance of characters, themes, feelings and sentiments that make this book what is, but I won’t rattle on any more than I already have. I urge everybody to read this story. Even if you’re a 100% smut whore. You can not fail to be moved by Making Faces. Ok, so there probably aren’t many gawky red-headed pastor’s daughters, with disabled cousins and an obsession with the high school heart throb, amongst us. But the messages and morals that are so cleverly delivered throughout this book will appeal to so many and be relatable, in some way or another, to most. Honestly, this book is thoroughly deserving of a place at the top of your TBR list.
Have you read it? Tell us what you thought?
‘Making Faces’ Statistics
• Steam Rating (out of 5): ♥
• Ending: HEA
• Length: 405 pages
• Narrative: Third person. Past tense. Multiple POVs.
• Series: ✗
• Can this be read as a standalone? Yes
• WARNING. This book includes…
Death. Violence. PTSD.
• Writing: Fantastic!
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