Autobiography of a Face Author:Lucy Grealy "I spent five years of my life being treated for cancer, but since then I've spent fifteen years being treated for nothing other than looking different from everyone else. It was the pain from that, from feeling ugly, that I always viewed as the great tragedy of my life. The fact that I had cancer seemed minor in comparison." At age nine,... more » Lucy Grealy was diagnosed with a potentially terminal cancer. When she returned to school with a third of her jaw removed, she faced the cruel taunts of classmates. In this strikingly candid memoir, Grealy tells her story of great suffering and remarkable strength without sentimentality and with considerable wit. Vividly portraying the pain of peer rejection and the guilty pleasures of wanting to be special, Grealy captures with unique insight what it is like as a child and young adult to be torn between two warring impulses: to feel that more than anything else we want to be loved for who we are, while wishing desperately and secretly to be perfect.« less
Dismal and bleak, this depicts the story of an introspective woman struggling through adolescence with only part of a face. The writing is strong, the observations keen and telling. I felt the last 1/3 could have used the same detail and storytelling as the first 2/3.
Can you imagine: being a teenage girl, losing much of your face to cancer, and returning to school. This is a story of pain, taunting, resiliency and strength. How she went through school, graduated from college - and all she endured in the process. A beautifully written story of an unconquerable spirit. You will love this book.
read this during college...wonderful book to help understand how a child deals with being different. It conitues into adulthood...just excellent reading. If you can remember books some 10 years later..than its good :)
Found this story so interesting, so tender, and so open. Everything she writes about relating to her cancer surgery on jaw at 10, then years upon years of unsuccessful reconstructive surgery after radiation and chemo, is dreadful. But she manages to create little pools of humor and normality by telling exactly what she thought and understood at various ages. Fate didn't deal her a long life or a very happy outcome, but that is not addressed in the book. I found an entirely different Lucy Grealy than I'd envisioned from Ann Patchett's (her 'best friend') book about their long friendship. Not doubting what Patchett had to say specifically - just finding so much more to Lucy.
I was intrigued by this book when I heard about the feud between the author's family and Ann Patchett, who has written a kind of memoir about Grealy. The afterword by Patchett disturbs me a bit because of its suggesting that this is a partially fictional work, done that way presumably because life doesn't fit art quite as well as we'd like. Because Grealy is not a particularly winsome narrator (why so very little relationship with her siblings--is it to protect their privacy or because she just doesn't connect with them, including her twin?), I hate to think that she's presented us with her BEST self. :-)
Nevertheless, this is a moving and painful story, and it helped me understand how someone in Grealy's (or Grealy's character's) circumstances tries to find her place in the world.