Faceless by Alyssa Sheinmel 

I really have to start being careful about which books I read when I’m commuting. Whilst writing this post on the train I’m sat with tears running down my face, yet again. I’m going to have to start buying the litre bottles of mineral water to put in my handbag. You know, to combat the dehydration.  
From the blurb:

While on a run one day, Maisie gets into a terrible accident. A hot-burning electrical fire consumes her, destroying her face. Where her nose, cheeks and chin used to be, now there is… nothing.

She is lucky enough to qualify for a face transplant. But with somone else’s features staring back at her in the mirror, Maisie looks -and feels- like a stranger.

The doctors promised that the transplant was her chance to live a normal life again, but nothing feels normal anymore. Before, she knew who she was – a regular girl who ran track and got good grades, who loved her boyfriend and her best friend. Now she can’t even recognise herself. 

Maisie is out running in the rain and gets caught in a thunderstorm; lightning strikes a tree, taking down some electrical wires over her, starting an electrical fire. Maisie survives but her face does not. The tissue of her nose, chin and cheeks are completely destroyed. She wakes up from a coma to be told that she has second degree burns all over her body and parts of her face are missing.  Her family and doctors keep telling her how lucky she is to be alive. Unsurprisingly, she doesn’t find this all that comforting.

As she recovers in hospital, Maisie is given the opportunity to have a face transplant. Luckily a donor matching Maisie is killed in a car accident. Yay. Her mum doesn’t want Maisie to rush into making a decision, but her Dad feels it’s the best chance for Maisie to live a normal life.

After the surgery, Maisie can’t come to terms with having someone else’s face attached to her head; it feels alien, she thinks she looks like a patchwork doll and it’s just not her looking back at her in the mirror. It’s not Maisie’s nose, her freckles have gone, and she feels like a freak. 

Maisie has to go back to school with the friends who have know her since kindergarten, her boyfriend Chirag  (Sheer-raj), who she is terrified of seeing,  and the generally imature teenagers in her class who won’t be able to resist calling her names and making jokes about nose jobs. She doesn’t know how she is supposed to accept her new face whilst surrounded by people who knew what she used to look like, and are treating her like she is made of glass or making her life miserable. 

Maisie starts to become isolated; she doesn’t feel lucky, and her friends can’t understand what she is going through. Maisie even feels like she is disappointing her parents. She knows her mum wants her to be an inspirational, overcoming-all-odds, motivational speaker type person, who uses their unfortunate circumstances to reach people, but that’s not who she is. The biggest problem is that as part if her “recovery” Maisie has had to give up running, shes tired all of the time because of her immuno-suppressant medication and her grades are slipping as a result. She isn’t the A student, track star who was going to Berkeley anymore. Without these things, Maisie doesn’t know who she is. When everything that makes you who you are is gone, what’s left?

This book is amazing. It’s one of those books where I could really identify with what the character was feeling. I’m not saying I know how it feels to lose your face after being in a horrendouslt disfiguring accident, but I have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. Luckily my vasculitis is mild. This doesn’t stop me from feeling like crap every day.  

Maisie is angry. She can’t do the things she loves anymore, and doesn’t know feel like there is a point in living like this. I’ve talked about my vasculitis story on here previously, so I won’t go into detail now, but I absolutely understood why Maisie was so fed up with being told she was lucky.  

At the same time I found myself feeling really grateful for my life, and my health now, even if my bloody body does attack itself. After reading this book I can imagine what it would be like to be faceless. This book is horrifying, thought provoking, extremely sad, hopeful and funny all at the same time. At no point does it feel cheesey or contrived. The author clearly did a hell of a lot of research. I loved every page of this book and sped through it to find out what happened.  I gave this 5 stars on Goodreads because it’s fantastic. I can’t recommend this highly enough.  

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.


Stephani Xxx 

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