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Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
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Autobiography of a Face (1994)

by Lucy Grealy

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,727625,893 (3.85)59
  1. 40
    Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett (joaldo)
    joaldo: I recommend reading Autobiography of a Face first, then Truth and Beauty. Autobiography of a Face should be enjoyed for what it is, without being in some way 'tainted' by the harsher view of Lucy's friend, Ann Patchett. Reading Ann's book next will then give the reader a completely different perspective on the poet herself, her work, and on their friendship.… (more)
  2. 10
    Change Me into Zeus's Daughter: A Memoir by Barbara Robinette Moss (betsytacy)
    betsytacy: An aspect of both memoirs is how the author dealt with a facial disfigurement. In Grealy's case it was the removal of a large part of her jaw after developing cancer at age nine. In Moss's case the disfigurement was caused by malnutrition, the result of growing up in an impoverished family with an alcoholic father.… (more)
  3. 00
    Lessons in Taxidermy: A Compendium of Safety and Danger (Punk Planet Books) by Bee Lavender (kperfetto)
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» See also 59 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 62 (next | show all)
Lucy Grealy was nine years old when she was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, an aggressive bone cancer, in her right jaw. The surgery and chemo helped save her life but left her with disfiguring scars.

What is more important to your sense of self that to recognize yourself in the mirror? What if the face you saw in the mirror was one you could not bear to look at? A face that could not possibly reflect the you inside?

Grealy became a renowned poet, and her way with words shows here. She writes so eloquently and honestly about what she went through and how she felt growing up “ugly.” She writes about being the “special” kid in a family of four, getting more of her parents’ attention, skipping school, good friends, how she dealt with bullies, and how she became addicted to the pain killers she was prescribed following major surgery. Her life was not all tragic, however; she also remembers moments of joy and humorous escapades.

The memoir was first published in 1994. The edition I had included an afterword written after Grealy’s death in 2002, by her friend and fellow Iowa Writers Workshop student, Ann Patchett. ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 14, 2018 |
When Lucy Grealy was 9 years old she was diagnosed with cancer, requiring a third of her jaw to be removed. While chemotherapy and radiation eventually made her cancer-free, reconstructing her jaw would be a very long and complicated process. Lucy faced her many surgeries with courage; dealing with friends, classmates, and adolescence in general was another matter entirely. More than anything, Lucy wanted not just to be accepted, but to be loved and desired. This book, published when Lucy was 31, is her story of personal growth. But it is so much more than a “disease memoir.” My edition included an afterword by her best friend, the author Ann Patchett, who does a far better job than I could at explaining this book as a work of literature, dealing with universal truths in the context of Lucy’s illness:
This is a book that understands how none of us ever feel we are pretty enough while it makes us question the very concept of beauty. It touches on our fears that love and approval are things we will always have to struggle to keep. It takes something so personal and so horrible that it is, for most of us, completely beyond our comprehension, and turns it into a mirror on ourselves.

Lucy was a poet and writer, who sadly died at age 39. Her talent is evident in the way she used her personal story, her quest for “beauty,” to create that mirror. I only wish we could hear more from her. ( )
  lauralkeet | Sep 19, 2017 |
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FACE, by Lucy Grealy - 236 Pages

From Publishers Weekly: Diagnosed at age nine with Ewing's sarcoma, a cancer that severely disfigured her face, Grealy lost half her jaw, recovered after two and half years of chemotherapy and radiation, then underwent plastic surgery over the next 20 years to reconstruct her jaw.

When Lucy was able to attend school or otherwise out in public she was either taunted outright, usually by groups of boys, or stared at by strangers. Despite her bravery throughout her ordeal, good friends, natural intelligence, and talent as a poet, she came to believe she was unlovable because of her disfigurement.

Lucy’s memoir is matter-of-fact, and often funny. While she clearly has self-esteem issues, she has a core of resilience that keeps her going. I admit to reading this book because I was going to read Ann Patchett’s book “Truth and Beauty” and discovered it portrayed her long close friendship with Lucy. If you read the one, I strongly suggest you read both. Together they provide the full picture of an enduring friendship. ( )
  LeslieHurd | Jan 11, 2017 |
4 stars ( )
  JennysBookBag.com | Sep 28, 2016 |
Lucy Grealy's powerful memoir about the premium we put on beauty and on a woman's face in particular. It took Lucy twenty years of living with a distorted self-image and more than thirty reconstructive procedures before she could come to terms with her appearance after childhood surgery left her jaw disfigured. Later she internalized the paralyzing fear of never being loved. Lucy Grealy awakens in us the difficult truth that beauty is to be found deep within. - summarized from jacket
  BurnFundLib | Feb 15, 2016 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Grealy, Lucyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ettlinger, MarionPhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lameris, MarianTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mac Weeney, AlanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Patchett, AnnAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sullivan, MichaelaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wargny, Daniellesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wertelet, MelodieDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For my friends, whom I love
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My friend Stephen and I used to do pony parties together.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060569662, Paperback)

At age nine, Lucy Grealy was diagnosed with a potentially terminal cancer. When she returned to school with a third of her jaw removed, she faced the cruel taunts of classmates. In this strikingly candid memoir, Grealy tells her story of great suffering and remarkable strength without sentimentality and with considerable wit. Vividly portraying the pain of peer rejection and the guilty pleasure of wanting to be special, Grealy captures with unique insight what it is like as a child and young adult to be torn between two warring impulses: to feel that more than anything else we want to be loved for who we are, while wishing desperately and secretly to be perfect

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:49 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

At age nine, Lucy Grealy was diagnosed with a potentially terminal cancer. When she returned to school with a third of her jaw removed, she faced the cruel taunts of classmates. In this strikingly candid memoir, Grealy tells her story of great suffering and remarkable strength without sentimentality and with considerable wit. Vividly portraying the pain of peer rejection and the guilty pleasures of wanting to be special, Grealy captures with unique insight what it is like as a child and young adult to be torn between two warring impulses: to feel that more than anything else we want to be loved for who we are, while wishing desperately and secretly to be perfect. "I spent five years of my life being treated for cancer, but since then I've spent fifteen years being treated for nothing other than looking different from everyone else. It was the pain from that, from feeling ugly, that I always viewed as the great tragedy of my life. The fact that I had cancer seemed minor in comparison."… (more)

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