Start your review of Autobiography of a Face Write a review Shelves: biography At an early age, Lucy Grealy was found to have a rare form of cancer. It would define the rest of her life. A third of her jawbone was removed to try to stem the spread of this cancer. She endured two and a half years of chemotherapy and many subsequent years of radiation treatments.
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Start your review of Autobiography of a Face Write a review Shelves: biography At an early age, Lucy Grealy was found to have a rare form of cancer.
It would define the rest of her life. A third of her jawbone was removed to try to stem the spread of this cancer. She endured two and a half years of chemotherapy and many subsequent years of radiation treatments. In addition, she had literally dozens of surgeries attempting to restore her face. Each time her body would eventually absorb transplanted material and sag back in on itself. Consider the garden-variety cruelty of At an early age, Lucy Grealy was found to have a rare form of cancer.
Consider the garden-variety cruelty of middle-schoolers. Then add to it a severe facial disfigurement. The taunting and insults were constant.
High school offered minimal relief. One benefit to Grealy of her many hospitalizations was that she got to skip so much school-time, so much taunting-time. She offers a blow-by-blow recounting of her medical trials, accompanied by the emotional turmoil that inevitably resulted. How does one cope with a world that defines beauty as value when one is clearly damaged?
Eventually, Grealy decided that she would become deep. If she could not succeed at being beautiful, facially, she would become as smart as she could. In an interview she said that beauty is a label. What people want is to be seen as graceful, to be accepted, to be loved, to be appreciated. Beauty is a label that people lay across things that we want. The same applies to wealth, which, per se, is meaningless, but stands in for other things, desirability, power, freedom.
This is a book about identity. Are you your face? Do you see yourself through the eyes of the world or through your own? Can you accept who you are, disfigurements and all? She expresses appreciation for the fact that while she has had barriers to contend with, in many ways she was blessed, with a roof over her head, plenty to eat, clothing to wear, and sees how many people, people with perfectly normal faces, lack those basics.
The book is memorable and moving, offering an inside look at the girl, then woman, behind the face, sometimes behind the mask. There is a bit of distance here between the author and her emotions, but with such an intense, long-lasting trauma, a bit of distance may have been the only way that Grealy could have written her tale.
It may not rank with great memoirs, but is an interesting, thoughtful and engaging one. PS - I learned, after reading Autobiography, that Grealy, who had become a successful poet and writer, had suffered an addiction to heroine following her last reconstructive surgery and died of an overdose at age Patchett wrote about their friendship in Truth and Beauty: A Friendship.
Lucy Grealy's Autobiography of a Face Essay
Throughout her childhood and young adulthood, Lucy Grealy attempts to create a self-image based on her looks, through the reactions of others, and her own hopefulness, but these fail and she learns to forget her image completely. It is at this time of forgetting her image that Grealy demonstrates that she is able to recognize a difference between an image that is reflected in a mirror and an image that one can create through language. Grealy, in Autobiography of a Face, separates her face from her image and creates a …show more content… Another interesting thing about this passage is the fact that Grealy is commenting on this photograph after she has become an adult. Grealy demonstrates that children tend to see things much worse that they really are: "This singularity of meaning-I was my face, I was ugliness It became the launching pad from which to lift off, the one immediately recognizable place to point to when asked what was wrong with my life. Everything led to it, everything receded from it-" Grealy 7. The definition of the word ugly is, "Very unattractive or displeasing in appearance" Webster
Autobiography of a Face Summary
It describes her childhood struggles with jaw cancer and the resulting disfigurement that she considers the true tragedy of her life. As she works the party, we see how acutely aware Grealy is of the partygoers curious and disturbed gazes at her disfigured jaw, which she attempts to hide behind her long hair. Even from the brief anecdote, we can see clearly how ashamed Grealy is at her own disfigurement. Fourth-grade Lucy sustains a minor injury while playing dodgeball in school.