Title: The Story of My Face
Author: Leanne Bough
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publication: September 10, 2018 by Second Story Press
Content Warning: violence (including flashbacks), anxiety, sexual assault
My Rating: ★★★☆☆
First, I’d like to thank NetGalley and Second Story Press for providing me with an eARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
The Story of My Face is about a teenager named Abby who is coping with the aftermath of a grizzly bear attack that left her with facial scars and deformities. When she returns to school after the event, she finds that her life has changed dramatically. Abby is forced to deal with bullies, disingenuous friends, and decisions about her future all while trying to handle the trauma from the attack itself. As the end of her senior year quickly approaches, Abby is having to handle her present issues while simultaneously recovering from her past and learning how to move forward.
I ended up having a lot of mixed feelings about this book. I did like the overall premise a teenager’s journey of overcoming adversity after a traumatic event. Watching Abby’s story unfold was both heartbreaking and empowering, and it was wonderful to see her character grow throughout the book. I believe the message this story will send to readers (especially teenagers) about acceptance and self discovery is important. Abby’s character was both highly inspirational and powerful.
On the contrary, I also liked that Abby wasn’t always “strong” in every scene throughout the story. The anxiety she was still experiencing about the bear attack was clear, and she could not always accomplish what she wanted to. Not only that, she was left with a permanent reminder of the attack that everyone could see: the scars and deformities on her face. Exploring her trauma and self consciousness was a vital part in making this story realistic.
However, I will say that I did not enjoy the pacing of this story. Unfortunately, I was left feeling bored a majority of the time because I could not fully connect with it. In my opinion, this was majorly due to how short the chapters were, and the jumpiness of the scenes. Most of the scenes felt incomplete, and I felt that they could’ve gone in to more depth and detail. Each time I’d start to get in to the story, the chapter or scene would end abruptly. This made it feel like the book was going both too slow and too fast at the same time.
Another aspect of this book that I didn’t particularly like were the characters themselves. The only character that I could understand and begin to like was Abby, since it was from her point of view. The others, however, were not very developed. While I know this book was meant to be focused on Abby’s story, I wish we could’ve gotten to know the other characters a little better. It made it hard to understand the dynamic between Abby and those around her.
Note: I briefly talk about sexual assault and sexual violence in the next section of the review. I will put a * where this part ends if it not safe for you to read it.
I’d also like to note one more issue I had with this book. Throughout the story, Abby is consistently bothered by her ex-boyfriend, Mason. At first, it starts with comments and bullying about her scars, but it ends up escalating to sexual violence and assault. The problem is that the seriousness of this was never fully addressed. I don’t believe that the author intended it that way, but since many of the scenes were short and lacked depth, this issue ended up being taken much too lightly. In fact, “sexual assault” or “sexual violence” were never even brought up. What Abby went through with her ex-boyfriend was absolutely not okay, and I would hate for readers (especially younger teenagers) to not understand that what happened was sexual assault.*
Overall, I do think that this book was likable for it’s message and premise. However, there were flaws in this story that I could not look past, making it hard to enjoy the book overall. But while there were problems along the way, I did enjoy reading about Abby’s journey of self discovery and acceptance. I believe there were many great lessons we can learn from her story.
Thank you for reading!