Making Faces by Amy Harmon
Contemporary Romance/New Adult
Overall Rating: 4.5 (xoxo)
Quick & Dirty summary: Ambrose Young is beautiful, strong, and smart. Fern Taylor knows because she’s loved Ambrose since she was a girl. Fern knows that Ambrose could never love her because she’s too plain with her bright red hair and crooked teeth. Ambrose is Hercules, Superman and the Tin Man all rolled into one, but mostly Ambrose is confused. When he enlists after September 11, he travels to Iraq with his four closest friends, never thinking that he’d be the only one to return. Neither Ambrose nor Fern know how to overcome their insecurities as they try to discover who they are as young adults.
I knew going into this book that young men were going to die. They always do in a story about war and it kills me every single time. This time was no different and I openly sobbed with this book. I also enjoyed this book so much that I read it straight through in one day. And I say this as a mother of two with a job outside of the home. Still I spent my late evening into middle of the night reading this book. It’s amazing!
What I wasn’t expecting was the tight-knit community the story is set in that deepens the emotion. The way Harmon describes each of Ambrose’s friends make them complex secondary characters. I liked some of them and I disliked some of them, and that’s how 18-20 year old boys are—sometimes they are loveable and sometimes they are jerks. And because they are such vivid characters, their families become alive as extensions of them, and their families are extensions of the community so there is a depth to the sorrow of lost life.
Added to that is Fern’s cousin Bailey. Oh my goodness he is such a beautiful character. He really adds so much to this storyline about death and God and justice. After all, how is it fair to take the lives of such beautiful young men? And how can God exist if a great person like Bailey is destined to die in his 20s from a degenerative disease? The parallels of the struggle are illustrative of the major theme that the novel addresses.
So why not a 5 star review? This story was so emotional for me that I’m not sure I can read it again. I think I said this about Amy Harmon’s other book I’ve reviewed, The Law of Moses. Additionally, this novel more overtly addresses this larger issue of God and justice in a way that was, perhaps, overly ambitious. While I appreciate her willingness to face this issue, I’m not sure it was completely resolved for me. I was still hoping for more in the end, despite the sweet epilogue. That being said, Harmon deals with such difficult issues with a sweetness that is inclusive rather than dogmatic or preachy.
Is it worth buying? (Kindle $4.95)
Absolutely yes. It’s a beautiful book and one I actually bought myself.
Something else you might enjoy:
I’m not happy with this recommendation, but I’m going with it for right now. I enjoyed this book a lot, it’s just that I’m not sure it’s the best recommendation following this book. But I’m going with it for now, as it has a similar beauty and the best theme. It’s Amanda Quick’s With this Ring, a historical romance with an overlay of mystery and suspense. Try it out.