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 13. 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.
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If you're looking for a 'feel good' happy romance then look elsewhere because this book spans years in the H/H traumatic and eventful lives and it's raw, emotional, multi-layered and very sad. Fern's not pretty but her inner beauty shines throughout this thought provoking book - she's thoughtful, kind and caring and she's desperately in love with the handsome and multi-talented Ambrose who's going to face tragedy and torment.
It switches back and forth through the years and describes Fern as having UGS - Ugly Girl Syndrome but, over the years, she tries and succeeds in improving her appearance. Her friend Bailey is suffering from Muscular Dystrophy which is slowly degenerating and will result in his early death but he, and Fern, keep a positive attitude with their deep and meaningful friendship. So part of the book describes when, as children, they were told of Bailey's illness and the resulting effects it had on their lives. Ambrose has it all but wants to join-up so he, and his friends, eventually find themselves in the middle of all the action in Afghanistan which is where he sustained horrific injuries which doesn't make him beautiful anymore as well as mental heartache and torment over personal losses. 9/11 was also described and talked about. There are other characters mentioned, one of whom was another of Fern's friends who has an unplanned pregnancy and gets married to a very abusive guy which has devastating consequences. After Ambrose returns home scarred and a recluse Fern and Bailey try to heal his mentally scarred soul by showing that beauty is only skin deep and happiness comes from within then, after a while, they succeed and Ambrose and Fern's character development and relationship grows.
During the years, this listen deals with low self image, school bullying, a terrible disease and it's awful consequences, unrequited teenage/adult love, a diversity of dramas, 9/11, the death of friends and it's impact on a small community, murder and domestic abuse. However, there is an underlying message of hope over adversity with prophetic words, sayings, religious references and selfless actions which all help in the healing process.
Worth a credit? This was such a difficult book to rate and review because yes it was a well-written character driven journey with the underlying message of hope and the eventual healing power of love over terrible personal vulnerabilities but, for me, I want a listen that will leave me hopefully happy and smiling over a nice love story with a HEA ending. So, in this rare instance, I really can't answer the 'credit' question because it's all about what you personally want from your listen.
- CAROLYN "I love being swept away by a new romance and thankfully Audible's ever growing Library means I get to indulge myself over and over again"
Great (low heat) romance :)
This was a great story. I loved Fern and Ambrose and loved their story. This is the first story I've read by this author and based on this I'll probably read more of her work in the future. FYI, there is no sex in this book...the most we get if some kissing and not much more so it's relatively tame in that respect but the tragedy and emotions brought on by the book should be kept to mature readers.
Fern is a daughter of a preacher and his wife. She was born late in their life (when they were in their 40s and thought they were past the possibility of children) and was treasured because of that. Fern was a plain child and she became aware of this at an early age but did her best to live with that and not let it bother her since there are others worse off. Fern's cousin, Bailey was born with a muscular disease that has had him in a wheelchair from an early age and will bring about his early death. Bailey and Fern are best friends though and she's been his companion and taken care of him most of her life. The only boy Fern has ever wanted was Ambrose but he never seemed to take much notice of her.
Ambrose was the son of an underwear model his mother met in New York when she was young. Unfortunately, Ambrose's biological father didn't want a son so his mother went back to her home town and married the man who became Ambrose's real dad (regardless of blood). Eventually Ambrose's mother couldn't stand small town life and left Ambrose and his dad to go back to New York. Ambrose was always handsome and got attention because of that. He also has a great wrestling talent and won state championship all 4 years of his high school career. Ambrose didn't like being the golden boy though and always felt the weight of everyone's expectations.
The first part of the book goes back in time to various times throughout the childhood of Fern, Ambrose and even Bailey. They all had certain issues they dealt with growing up. The most poignant moment was in the beginning of their senior year in high school, when Ambrose and the rest live through the events of 911 (which brought tears to my eyes). This was particularly tough for Ambrose because by this time his mom is living back in New York and Ambrose was worried for her life. This ends up having a profound effect on Ambrose. Bailey is the wrestling coach's son and Fern is his niece so they're around a lot. Ambrose doesn't really notice Fern outside of the normal of seeing her with Bailey and not thinking much more about her until partway through their senior year in high school. Rita, Fern's other BFF (outside of Bailey) was crushing on Ambrose in their senior year. Fern knew she had no chance with Ambrose herself so when Rita had trouble wiring an love letter to Ambrose, Fern ended up helping her. Fern loves reading and has read tons of romance books and also has experimented around with writing her own stuff and seems to have a pretty good talent at it. Fern's letters drawn Ambrose in and Fern loves the exchanges between them. Fern isn't quite as pleased when she realizes that Rita is getting the benefits (kissing Ambrose) from Fern's writing. Eventually Ambrose realizes that Rita can't be writing the letters and finds out it's Fern. He's pissed (because he liked the girl in the letters and then thought he was being played) until he realizes that she hadn't been playing him and had liked their exchanges. Ambrose stays away from Fern for most of the rest of their senior year but he does start noticing her more and thinks she's actually kind of cute. Ambrose ends up deciding to join the National Guard (rather than take a wrestling scholarship to college) and his 4 best friends agree to come with him. They leave at the end of summer and before they do, Ambrose kisses Fern once right before he leaves for boot camp.
As noted in the book's blurb, Ambrose comes home scarred after almost being killed in an explosion that killed his 4 best friends while they were in a convoy. He hides away from the whole town for the first while after his return. Ambrose is scarred and also feels responsible for his friend's deaths and doesn't understand why God would let them die yet let him live. There is quite a bit of dealing with death and loss in this story and I thought it was well done (I'm not big on heavy religious messages in book and while God and religion is mentioned in this book but not so strongly it bothered me). The story focused more on how to treasuring those we've lost and dealing with the pain of their loss. It takes Ambrose some time though and it's not easy. Ambrose's dad owns a bakery that's connected with the grocery store that Ferm works as the night manager at. Ambrose starts working nights doing the baking because he figures not many people will see him then and he wants to hide from people, not able to handle them seeing what he's become (partially feeling this more because of his emotional issues and guilt over his friend's deaths). Fern sees Ambrose though and starts making attempts to get him to talk to her via messages. Ambrose rejects her efforts at first but eventually stops fighting her efforts, especially once Bailey gets in to the act (as Bailey is a force of nature in a wheelchair). Fern doesn't care about his scars and all and she hopes that maybe she'd have a chance with Ambrose but isn't sure as she still sees as him as out of her league, regardless of his lack of physical beauty. Ambrose sees that Fern has blossomed in to a beautiful woman (not that she realizes this) and he doesn't think he's worthy of her any more. Their mutual feelings of inadequacy does hamper them a bit but thankfully, Bailey isn't afraid to say what's on his mind and has a couple frank and to the point talks with Ambrose when he flounders in the growing relationship between him and Fern. Things do progress though and after some good times and some bad, Fern and Ambrose finally get their HEA.
I greatly enjoyed this story. Fern was a great heroine and Ambrose was pretty cool in his own right. I got sucked in to the story right from the beginning and couldn't stop until I was done. The story was very poignant, not just on the romance side but also in dealing with loss of loved ones and dealing with grief and/or guilt. It's a very sweet story and I'm very happy I read it. I'd recommend this story (just make sure to have tissues handy). 2 thumbs up! :D