Aneesa's Reviews > Autobiography of a Face

Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
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's review
Nov 01, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: memoir
Read in October, 2011

I read this book in two sittings. It has everything I want in a memoir or a novel: crazy but true kid logic, internal investigation and dissection.

My only complaint is that while I understand that her brother's schizophrenia is another story, I felt the book was missing information about how she felt about her twin--given that so much of it was about how the author looked.

Some of my favorite moments which I want to remember:

"I had the capacity of imagination to momentarily escape my own pain, and I had the elegance of imagination to teach myself something true regarding the world around me, but I didn't yet have the clarity of imagination to grant myself the complicated and necessary right to suffer" (126).

"I felt as if my illness were a blanket the world had thrown over me; all that could be seen from the outside was an indistinguishable lump. And somehow I had transformed that blanket into a tent, beneath which I almost happily set up camp" (130).

"When I tried to imagine being beautiful, I could only imagine living without the perpetual fear of being alone, without the great burden of isolation, which is what feeling ugly felt like" (177).

"Later, as a teenager, I worked in a library, and one day as I was reshelving books I found myself in the medical section, where a book on pediatric oncology caught my eye. Pulling the heavy thing out, I laid it on the table, opened to the index, and looked up my cancer, Ewing's sarcoma. I turned to the given page and read a brief description of the various manifestations of it, followed by a table of mortality rates. A reasonable change for survival was given at five percent.

"The paper of the book was heavy and almost cream-colored, and I ran my finger along the letters, which were so black I half expected to feel them raised up on the page. I looked up. The room was empty and buzzing with both bad light and the numerous stacks of books I still had to shelve. Five percent. I felt obliged to say something, but no one was there, and I didn't know what I was supposed to say anyway. Placing my hand on my neck, feeling the pulse there, I stood for some minutes on the verge of moving or speaking or sitting or something. Then the impulse passed, and I was on the other side of it, feeling as if I'd forgotten something, some name or object or emotion I'd meant to take note of but had carelessly allowed to slip by. Finally someone walked into the room, breaking the silence with the squeak of winter boots, and I turned, reaching for another book to shelve"(67-68).

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Christa (new)

Christa I read this book. Fake book club!

Aneesa You have to add it!

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