Book Review - Autobiography of a Face

I just finished Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy . Talk about gaining some perspective.

My friend had recommended it while we were in college, but I never got around to reading it. I was browsing the $1 books at a thrift store when I came across it. It seemed interesting, so I splurged and bought it (big spender right hurrre).

I don’t usually buy books. I prefer to borrow them and keep my bookshelf cluttered with picture frames and junk mail. I can’t seem to stay in one place too long. And as much as I love to read, I love my back even more, and heavy boxes full of books do not make for a fun move, ya dig? Now that I’m finally living in sin settled w/ B, maybe I’ll try staying put for more than a year. What a novice idea.

Back to the book: this isn’t your typical summer book. If you’re looking for a light, airy read to throw in your weekend bag, you might want to reconsider. Although it’s pretty short and a relatively quick read, it’s a little heavy for the beach. 

It’s a beautifully written account of one woman’s struggle after being diagnosed with cancer at the age of 9, major reconstructive surgeries through middle and high school, and coming to terms with the fact that she’s never going to be beautiful (not exactly the “feel-good” read you'd normally enjoy in your beach chair).

A child when diagnosed, Grealy doesn’t fully understand what’s going on medically. At one point she writes how she never knew she had cancer until she heard someone else in her family say it. She was accustomed to calling her Ewing’s sarcoma by it’s full name, never connecting the fact that it was a form of cancer.

I can’t even imagine enduring what Grealy did. Going to the hospital for occasional check-ups and having my blood drawn is enough to make me queasy, let alone withstanding reconstructive surgeries, chemotherapy, and countless hospital visits.

You think you’re not skinny enough, tall enough, pretty enough; what if half your jaw was removed from your face? You think your hair is too flat, too curly, too coarse; what if you went through high school with no hair because of chemotherapy? Kids are so, so cruel, and there were points in the story my heart was literally breaking.

This book really made me think. I’m always complaining about stupid shit. I missed my bus, or forgot an umbrella, or I let someone in front of me and didn’t get a thank you wave (don’t get me wrong, this will always drive me crazy). I’m not claiming to be a changed woman after reading this. But I'm going to work harder at not sweating the small stuff. Grealy had such an incredible outlook on life; I figure I can, too.

Sometimes I need a little perspective. This world isn't fair, or perfect, or easy. But that's life.  


I read this book in highschool! We read it out loud to one another because we were such a small class. It was an amazing experience to read it and discuss it together. Thank you for reminding me of this one.
Brigid said…
This is such a great book for high school students to read. I'm glad you enjoyed it!