Memoir Review: Autobiography of a Face

Tonight, I’ll be reviewing this lesser known book about a British girl who immigrates to New York city after being diagnosed with sarcoma (cancer) in her jaw. Unfortunately, this requires an operation to remove a third of her jaw, along with radiation and chemotherapy. I am just now getting to the part in which Lucy started chemotherapy. It’s interesting to read another person’s account of having cancer, but what is even more shocking about the whole thing is the fact that the author was only in 4th grade at the time the book was written! The amount of intellect in someone so young is truly amazing.

The character development in this book is also quite good. Grealy discusses how her mother’s anxiety and sadness about the whole cancer situation manifests itself, and how her medical oncologist has an absolutely terrible bedside manner and doesn’t treat her with very much respect or empathy. I don’t know much about her father yet as I’m just now getting to reading about him, but I am sure that he’ll become a well-developed character as well as the story progresses. The writing is so good in this regard that you really feel like you know the characters just by reading about them.

The only part of this memoir so far that I don’t like is that it tends to jump around a bit between the author talking about the universal truths/life lessons that she learned from this experience and the chronological order of the events that took place over the course of the story. I wish she would have weaved them more discretely rather than making it so obvious. Overall, this is really a minor issue though and I still love this novel.

I’d rate this a 9/10. It’s got a great writing style, intriguing plot that makes you want to keep reading,incorporation of lessons learned throughout this experience, and amazing character development. The one¬†point off is for the plot being slightly hard to follow, but again- that doesn’t really impact my positive opinion of this book. It’s just a minor issue I noticed while reading.

If you’re looking for an absolutely inspiring story about overcoming the odds that is written with amazing intellect, I’d highly recommend¬†Autobiography of a Face!

Filed under: Memoir, Writing, cancer

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