*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.*
"Love is not love
Which alters when alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove;
Oh, no, it is an ever-fixèd mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken."
It has been a while since I have read a book all in one sitting and staying up until 3:15am to finish it, It is no surprise that it was an Amy Harmon book that made me do this. I don't even know where to begin to review this book, I can tell you my eyes are watering again just thinking about it. I cried with this book: A LOT. Like puffy eyes, sniffly nose, can't-see-the-words-anymore crying. I cried from chapter one and I didn't stop until the very end. Wow I'm really selling this book to you aren't I? Yes I cried at heartache and pain but I also cried at the beauty and joy of the characters as well.
Making Faces is truly a wonderful, well written new adult book. We have a beautiful hero in Ambrose, he is book boyfriend material without a doubt. He is strong, vulnerable, lost and confused at points but he remains true to himself and his loved ones and I fell head over heels for him. Fern is a fantastic heroine, so real and true that I couldn't help but relate to her. Fern is one of us, she is the ordinary girl who loves romance novels, she thinks she is nothing remarkable but she doesn't realise she is beautiful on the inside and out.
This story was about love, loss, friendships and family. It captures the essence of New Adult with the character's journey of self discovery, personal growth and increase of responsibility. It isn't your fluffy romance novel and as much as I adore smexy laden books, I also appreciate thought provoking story lines that will make you question your own beliefs and thoughts.
Every character had a purpose in this story, every action had a consequence and everything was linked how it should have been. I felt the story started off a little slow, we were given lots of detail of the past about Fern growing up with her cousin Bailey and their classmates, including the elusive Ambrose Young, wrestling God of Hannah Lake. I had read an excerpt and I really wanted to move on to Ambrose's return from the army, I wanted to get to the present day but upon finishing the book, I can now appreciate the detail we were given. I believe it was due to the fact that we got to know these characters so well, that I was so affected by the story and the events within it. My heart completely broke at one point and the was due to the connection I had with this story.
Bailey was wheelchair bound due to his Duchenne muscular dystrophy. He worshipped Ambrose as he had the life Bailey could only dream of, if he wasn't given a body that was failing him. Fern loved Ambrose from afar. She knew her thick glasses, waif body, metal braces and fiery red hair was no match for the buxom blondes who got the attention of Ambrose but her love never wavered, she knew the real Ambrose and loved the boy behind the wrestling accolades and pretty face.
Ambrose decides to defy the hopes and dreams of his dad, wrestling coach and the whole town as he turns down a full scholarship and enlists in the army. He convinces his four best friends to go with him. To fight for their country and spend a few more years just being together. To Ambrose's horror his life is ripped apart when his four best friends don't make it home alive and instead of Ambrose losing his own life, he loses his beauty. He is horrifically scarred both mentally and physically. He returns to Hannah Lake, not knowing how to deal with his anger, devastation, repulsion and overwhelming guilt.
It is on his return that Fern and Bailey are there for him, they see Ambrose as the man he has always been, he is never blamed for the death of his friends and his now marred face is no contest for Bailey who has lived a life with restrictions and stares. It is due to this strong bond that repairs the life of Ambrose and it enriches the lives of Fern and Bailey.
Greek Mythology and Faith were strong themes running through the story. I loved the inclusion of them both, the comparison of Hercules and Ambrose allowed us to understand his character better and I feel it enhanced the way we seen Ambrose and how he felt about himself. Many questions were flagged, why do the good people die? What happens to the ones left behind? I love a book that stays with me long after I have read it. I still think often of A Different Blue by Amy Harmon and I know Making Faces will be exactly the same. I feel I connect with this story because it is so raw and real. The events covered in the book are happening all over the world. People are living with them each day. I hope someone like Bailey really does exists as his great heart and sense of humour lifted up what could have been a morose read.
I loved the relationships between the characters. Fern and Bailey really were two peas in a pod, they were closer than cousins, the very best of friends. Ambrose and Bailey offered each other a crucial friendship even though they were both unaware. I loved the relationship between Fern and Ambrose, their self image made them believe they weren't capable of gaining the other's love. It was great to see them build a friendship and then eventually more. The outside can draw you to a person but it really is what is inside that keeps us there. I loved the letters and the this-or-that game they played. We got to know the real Fern and Ambrose. Even the parents of the young adults added substance to the story. Every person and every thing had a purpose to this book and I loved every minute. It didn't matter my eyes were red and puffy and I could no longer talk, this truly was a journey well worth travelling.
I was glad to see an epilogue included in the story, my immediate reaction was to complain at the length, not even a full page (and I am a greedy reader) by Amy made every word count and I got everything I needed from those couple of paragraphs. It was simply a perfect ending.
I urge you to read Making Faces, you will certainly not regret it. I truly hope Amy Harmon is recognised for her beautiful writing. She encapsulates the New Adult genre and I hope more people will be willing to give this beautiful story the attention it deserves.
"Thank you for making even ugly things beautiful. Amen" ~ Fern
"And it had been a good night, in spite of Becker Garth. Ambrose had talked to her. He'd even laughed with her. and Fern felt a glimmer of hope flicker in her heart."
"So he kissed her again, communicating his own need. Her lips welcomed his, moving softly, seeking, savouring, and Ambrose Young felt himself slip and slide, falling helplessly-with very little resistance-in love with Fern Taylor."
"I can't stand it. It hurts so bad that I want to die too." "I know," he repeated softly, his voice steady. And Fern knew he did. He understood, maybe better than anyone else could. "How did you know I needed you?" Fern whispered in broken tones. "Because I needed you," Ambrose confessed."
"Think about it. There isn't heartache if there hasn't been joy. I wouldn't feel loss if there hadn't been love." ~Fern
"But though his body howled and begged and his heart bellowed in his chest, he kissed and touched, and nothing more, saving the final act for a time when sorrow had released its grip and Fern wasn't running from feeling but revelling in it."
"Ambrose, Fern already sees who you really are. That's why she loves you." ~ Joshua Taylor (Fern's dad)
"We hope for things we can't see. We believe that there are lessons in loss, power in love, and that we have within us the potential for a beauty so magnificent that our bodies can't contain it." ~ Joshua