I could not put this book down once I started it and I didn’t think that it would have the effect on me that it did. The premise of the book is about a girl who is in an electrical fire and half of her face is burnt off. It follows her coming to terms with her new face transplant and finding out who she is after going through such a big thing in her life.
When I read the blurb in Waterstones, I thought this sounded like a really interesting book but I never realised that I would relate to it so much. Obviously, our surgeries were completely different however the way Alyssa writes about going through a life changing operation are transferable to a lot of different types of illnesses and major surgery’s.
An element of the book I really liked was how the protagonist, Masie, almost as soon as she’s had her face transplant manages to joke about it and the whole situation. I really related to this I did this myself and I’m a strong believer of laughing in the face of your illness and trying not to let it get to you too much.
The book also gave a really positive look at therapy and therapy groups. Some of my favourite parts of the book was when Masie was at group therapy and how she was able to be herself around people who had gone through similar things as herself without having to feel self conscious and could talk freely about how she was feeling. I’ve never been to group therapy (I have been to therapy on my own though and I found it really helped – more on that another time though), however I like to think it’s a bit like how it’s portrayed in the book. I actually found myself shedding a few tears as I read the therapy scenes because I was screaming in my head saying I THOUGHT THAT TOO!
Something I really related to in the book though was how having to take medication and immunosuppressants; the author really hit the nail on what it was like and her description of the side effects of them all and what fatigue really feels like was so brilliant and accurate.
For me, the most thought provoking part of this was the grieving process which Masie goes through after her operation. A few months after my surgery, me and my mum went to a play which was about grieving and I’d realised that I was going through a grieving process of my own and I think it’s true for any major, life changing/altering surgery; you have to grieve what you lost, what you went through and how things used to be.
“”I’ll wear black tomorrow. No one at school will think anything of it. People wear black all the time. It will be my secret that the color is symbolic, a sign that I’m mourning the part of myself that died. Mourning all the things in my old life that are different now. No one will know that I’m waiting to get to the fifth stage, the one where I can accept what’s left of me.”
Overall, this is a fantastic book which I think everyone should read but especially if you’ve gone through something quite life altering. It’s so beautifully written but also really makes you think about disabilities and mental health and how your physical health and mental health are one.