Book Review: Faceless (Alyssa Sheinmel)
Publisher: Chicken House
Release Date: January 7th 2016
Summary (from Goodreads):
When Maisie is struck by lightning, her face is partially destroyed. She’s lucky enough to get a face transplant, but how do you live your life when you can’t even recognize yourself anymore? She was a runner, a girlfriend, a good student …a normal girl. Now, after a single freak accident, all that has changed. As Maisie discovers how much her looks did and didn’t shape her relationship to the world, she has to redefine her own identity, and figure out what ‘lucky’ really means.
When Maisie gets struck by lightning in a freak accident, her burns are so severe parts of her face are burned off. Radical face transplant surgery means she can live a relatively ‘normal’ life, but Maisie has a hard time adjusting to seeing someone else’s face in the mirror.
This book was packed with raw emotion on a really difficult issue and it made me think a lot. I can’t imagine going through something so traumatic, and to be so permanently scarred by it, in a way that is obvious to everyone, must be so, so hard. Some injuries can be hidden away if you want to but it’s much harder to do that with your face. I think it would be doubly hard going through that as a teenage girl, when your appearance can feel like everything. Everyone staring, whispering, commenting – just awful. It hurt me that the students at school could be so unsupportive: I’d hope if I was in their position I’d be more sensitive.
What I got the most was how annoyed Maisie got every time people told her she was lucky: lucky to have survived, to have gotten the face transplant, to be regaining feeling in her face. In her opinion, she would be lucky if she hadn’t been hit by lightning at all, which makes sense. While people probably don’t understand the damage their words can do, I could imagine how frustrating that would be. It’s easy for people who aren’t facially scarred to say that you should appreciate whatever life you have.
This book really didn’t sugarcoat issues and I appreciated that. While it was a hopeful ending, it wasn’t a happily ever after, which made it feel true to real life. The focus is on the emotional recovery and deals with grief after a life changing event, loss of identity and the road to self acceptance. I found Maisie’s journey fascinating and would definitely recommend it!