Introspective. Meaningful. Didactic. Emotionally charged.
This is a beautiful, quietly powerful story woven
with multiple layers of meaning. It tells a heartfelt story of
friendship, loss, heroism, beauty and love.
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.
Making Faces packed lots of substance, the words in the story imbued with feeling and thoughtfulness. The story is powerful and beautiful, imparting a message of an unrelenting faith in a “bigger picture,” hope amidst darkness, joy in sadness and intrinsic beauty in ugly. The level of introspection and heart is evident in the writing, helping to entwine this honest and moving narrative.
Fern Taylor is a petit, red-headed, freckled face girl with wild, unruly hair that curls in defiance. She’s quiet, meek, but deeply thoughtful and intelligent, finding joy between the pages of a romance novel and purpose in taking care of others, particularly her best friend Bailey, who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. One other defining element in her life is her enduring love for Ambrose Young.
“Fern Taylor loved Ambrose Young, had loved him since she was ten years old and had heard his young voice lifted in a very different kind of song, but in that moment he reached a whole new level of beauty, and Fern was left reeling and dazed that one boy could be gifted with so much.”
Ambrose is gorgeous, talented, smart, athletic, revered… he is the guy that girls want to be with and guys want to be like. He is power, strength and beauty personified.
“Ambrose Young was absolutely beautiful, a Greek God among mortals, the stuff of fairy tales and movie screens.”
Fern, on the other hand, is the kind of girl easily overlooked. She’s always thought she isn’t as pretty as other girls, so she’s convinced herself that Ambrose has no reason to “see her.” Bailey’s dad is the coach of the high school wrestling team and as the team’s star, Ambrose is always around the inseparable duo of Bailey and Fern, but he never really knows her. Ambrose feels pressured with expectations to succeed, feeling the burning desire for something more, to find freedom and fulfillment on his own. So Ambrose joins the army and coaxes his four best friends to join him. When tragedy strikes and Ambrose returns disfigured with scars inside and out, he’s lost… crushed with grief and and all-consuming feeling of guilt and failure.
“Now Ambrose’s hair was gone. So was his sense of direction, his confidence, the light in his eyes.”
During this time, Ambrose hides from everyone but always kind and forever seeing the beauty within Ambrose, Fern reaches out to help his darkness brighten, bringing insight and meaning to his struggles. To Fern, Ambrose is still beautiful.
“… People are like that. When you really look at them, you stop seeing a perfect nose or straight teeth. You stop seeing the acne scar or the dimple in your chin. Those things start to blur, and suddenly you see them, the colors, the life inside the shell, and the beauty takes on a whole new meaning.”
What evolves between Fern and Ambrose is a friendship… a connection between unlikely kindred spirits as together they find joy, healing, hope and perspective. They also find love with each other, however uncertain they are in the beginning.
Fern struggles to find purpose outside taking care of someone else, while Ambrose worries that Fern will one day wake up to find he is not good enough… too disfigured to warrant her love. Their relationship is honest and beautiful to see grow. They are exactly what the other needs.
“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’d better make me believe you mean it, Ambrose, or you will most definitely break me.”
The book explores notions of faith, hope, forgiveness, heroism and beauty. Amy Harmon is a talented author that easily evokes emotion, pouring her heart and soul into each word she writes. Although the book is quiet, it’s powerful and brimming with deep feeling and lessons to take to heart. There were moments in the book that evoked a maelstrom of thought, other moments that completely gutted me and left me in tears and there were also many moments of beauty and kindness that make this story difficult to forget. If you’re looking for a heartrending story with lots of meaning and heart, this is the book for you.
“True beauty, the kind that doesn’t fade or wash off, takes time. It takes pressure, it takes incredible endurance. It is the slow drip that makes the stalactite, the shaking of the Earth that creates mountains, the constant pounding of the waves that breaks up the rocks and smooths the rough edges. And from the violence, the furor, the raging of the winds, the roaring of the waters, something better emerges, something that would otherwise never exist.”
Was she still ugly? Or had she just been ugly for so long that everyone had already made up their minds? Everyone, meaning the guys she went to school with. Everyone, meaning Ambrose.
She sat at her little desk and turned on her computer. She was working on a new novel. A new novel with the same story line. In all her stories, either the prince fell in love with a commoner, the rock star lost his heart to a fan, the president was smitten by the lowly school teacher, or the billionaire became besotted with the sales clerk. There was a theme there, a pattern that Fern didn’t want to examine too closely. And usually, Fern could easily imagine herself in the role of the female love interest. She always wrote in the first person and gave herself long limbs, flowing locks, big breasts, and blue eyes. But tonight her eyes kept straying to her mirror, to her own pale face with a smattering of freckles.
For a long time she sat, staring at the computer screen. She thought of the prom, the way Ambrose ignored her. She thought of the conversation afterward and Bailey’s surrender to the “shit,” even if it was only temporary surrender. She thought about the things she didn’t understand and the way she felt about herself. And then she began to type, to rhyme, to pour her heart out on the page.
If God makes all our faces, did he laugh when he made me?
Does he make the legs that cannot walk and eyes that cannot see?
Does he curl the hair upon my head ’til it rebels in wild defiance?
Does he close the ears of the deaf man to make him more reliant?
Is the way I look coincidence or just a twist of fate?
If he made me this way, is it okay, to blame him for the things I hate?
For the flaws that seem to worsen every time I see a mirror,
For the ugliness I see in me, for the loathing and the fear.
Does he sculpt us for his pleasure, for a reason I can’t see?
If God makes all our faces, did he laugh when he made me?
About The Author
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.