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.
It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book that’s made me feel this way. I am so blown away by this story, and the writing, that I’m honestly not sure how to put into words how much I recommend this book. Making Faces is so much more than I thought it would be–and I had pretty high expectations. But they were just blown out of the water. Since it was in third person, we got an oversight of perspective, so to speak, and it was nice to get that all-encompassing look at what was going on. And normally, I’m not a huge fan of third person.
There’s Fern, who when we meet her, is an awkward high school senior–complete with glasses, blazing red hair, braces, and a small, boyish figure. Her best friend, who she is the most perfect caretaker for, is her cousin, Bailey, who lives with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. I was immediately absorbed because of the relationship Fern and Bailey had–aside from how the love she had for Ambrose Young, star wrestler, because Fern was just so selfless, caring, and Bailey, seriously, just one of the best characters I’ve ever read.
When the book starts, almost immediately we are hit with the events of 9/11. Amy wrote this tragedy so well, I was immediately transported to where I was on this day, and it was very similar to how these characters lived through this, as I was also in high school, watching alongside my teachers and fellow students. Fern has been in love with Ambrose since they were kids. While he’s noticed her, because she’s best friends with his wrestling coach’s kid, Bailey, he’s not noticed her. After 9/11, Ambrose, along with four of his friends head off to war. What happens from there changes everyone. And everything.
When Ambrose returns, alone, he’s barely surviving. But through the help of friends–Fern and Bailey–he slowly starts to realize there is a life worth living. They make him live. Make him feel again.
This story is so much more than your traditional love story, and actually, there’s not an actual sex scene to be found! But, the emotion and love written in this story far surpasses anything else. There’s friendship love, family love, childhood love, adult love, and the love between a mother and child.
I’m going to leave it at that, because I hadn’t read any reviews prior to reading this, and I don’t want to give anything crucial away.
I cannot recommend Making Faces highly enough. This story is just so beautiful. I laughed–a lot–cried, smiled, felt my heartbreak, but also felt it put back together. I questioned things about my own life and the way I live, and why things happen to certain people and not others. THIS BOOK WILL MAKE YOU THINK! I’ve hardly been able to stop thinking about since finishing it. It’s that kind of story. It plants itself in you and doesn’t budge.
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He didn’t know how to make her understand that she was so much more than just pretty. So he leaned forward and pressed his mouth to hers. Very carefully. Not like the other night when he’d been scared and impulsive, and smacked her head against the wall in his attempt to kiss her. He kissed her now to tell her how he felt. He pulled away almost immediately, not giving himself a chance to linger and lose his head. He wanted to show her he valued her, not that he wanted to rip her clothes off. And he wasn’t sure when it came right down to it that she wanted to be kissed by an ugly SOB. She was the kind of girl that would kiss him because she didn’t want to hurt his feelings. The thought filled him with despair.
She let out a frustrated sigh and sat up, running her hands through her hair. It flowed through her fingers and down her back, and he wished he could bury his own hands in it, bury his face in the heavy locks and breathe her in. But he’d obviously upset her.
“I’m sorry, Fern. I shouldn’t have done that.”
“Why?” she snapped, startling him enough that he winced. “Why are you sorry?”
“Because you’re upset.”
“I’m upset because you pulled away! You’re so careful. And it’s frustrating!”
Ambrose was taken back by her honesty, and he smiled, instantly flattered. But the smile faded as he tried to explain himself.
“You’re so small, Fern. Delicate. And all of this is new to you. I’m afraid I’m going to come on too strong. And if I break you or hurt you, I won’t survive that, Fern. I won’t survive it.” That thought was worse than walking away from her and he shuddered inwardly. He wouldn’t survive it. He had already hurt too many. Lost too many.
Fern knelt in front of him, and her chin wobbled and her eyes were wide with emotion. Her voice was adamant as she held his face between her hands, and when he tried to pull away so she wouldn’t feel his scars, she hung on, forcing his gaze.
“Ambrose Young! I have waited my whole life for you to want me. If you don’t hold me tight I won’t believe you mean it, and that’s worse than never being held at all. You better make me believe you mean it, Ambrose, or you will most definitely break me.”
“I don’t want to hurt you, Fern,” he whispered hoarsely.
“Then don’t,” she whispered back, trusting him. But there were lots of ways to cause pain. And Ambrose knew he was capable of hurting her in a thousand ways.
Ambrose stopped trying to pull his face away, surrendering to the way it felt to be touched. He hadn’t allowed anyone to touch him for a long time. Her hands were small, like the rest of her, but the emotions they stirred in him were enormous, gigantic, all-consuming. She made him shake, made him quake inside, vibrate like the tracks under an on-coming train.
Her hands left his face and traveled down the sides of his neck. One side smooth, the other riddled with divots and scars and rippled where the skin had been damaged. She didn’t pull away, but felt each mark, memorized each wound. And then she leaned forward and pressed her lips to his neck, just below his jaw. And then again on the other side, on the side that bore no scars, letting him know that the kiss wasn’t about sympathy but desire. It was a caress.
And his control broke.
ABOUT AMY HARMON:
Amy Harmon knew at an early age that writing was something she wanted to do, and she divided her time between writing songs and stories as she grew. Having grown up in the middle of wheat fields without a television, with only her books and her siblings to entertain her, she developed a strong sense of what made a good story.
Amy Harmon has been a motivational speaker, a grade school teacher, a junior high teacher, a home school mom, and a member of the Grammy Award winning Saints Unified Voices Choir, directed by Gladys Knight. She released a Christian Blues CD in 2007 called “What I Know” – also available on Amazon and wherever digital music is sold. She has written five novels, Running Barefoot, Slow Dance in Purgatory, Prom Night in Purgatory, the New York Times Bestseller, A Different Blue and coming October 20, Making Faces.