Before reading Autobiography of a Face, I’d only read one thing by Lucy Grealy. It was “The Country of Childhood” from her As Seen on TV. Lucinda Margaret Grealy (June 3, – December 18, ) was an Irish- American poet and memoirist who wrote Autobiography of a Face in Autobiography of a Face is a memoir written by award-winning poet Lucy Grealy. It describes her childhood struggles with jaw cancer and the resulting.

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I want to go back to the stoicism. The sadness that Lucy’s many other friends wrote about addressed only a tiny fraction of the tragedy my family had experienced. It was almost as if she was excited by the idea. This is the story of her friendship with Grealy. The surgery and chemo helped save her life but left her with disfiguring scars.

An article I read has quotes from her mother and twin sister that also allude to some big family struggles and problems. I believe the book has held up well. What gives a particular piquancy to Autobiography of a Face is the narration. I thought this was offensive, but didn’t say.

Even when she was alive, I found it difficult to read. Ultimately, I hope my criticisms of Grealy will help me puzzle out my own problems as a writer–narrative distance, time and tense, and compensating for story with capital-V voice. This page was last edited on 28 Januaryat Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.

That was my mistake. She tended to dwell on things, and that lead to unnecessarily long and detailed sections that could have been left out.

But sometime after the large portion of her jaw was removed, she admits that she didn’t even understand that she had had cancer until many years later! We come away from reading Autobiography of a Facewith the sad insight that by the time she was a teenager Lucy had already focused all her hopes on the wrong object.


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Autobiography of a Face : Lucy Grealy :

It could be said that the living with the deformity caused by the yrealy and the surgeries were the hardest part. When she returns to school, Lucy’s mother buys her multiple short-sleeved turtlenecks, and when Lucy asks why she’d want to wear turtlenecks in the spring, her mother replies; “If you wear something that comes up around your neck, it makes the scar less visible. She pulled back to look at me. PS – I learned, after reading Autobiographythat 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 In fact, her protestations against whininess come off as, well, whiny.

The treatments sound pretty primative now. We would dance for hours, z until our feet ached from the linoleum floor, at which point Lucy would go and get in the tub Lucy, skinny, was always freezing and could most often be found in the bath.

Autobiography of a Face: Lucy Grealy: : Books

We started college together in I reread it because I just finished reading Ann Patchett’s book about her relationship with Lucy, ‘Truth and Beauty,” which began freshman grraly of college. She has to have a major surgery to remove the cancer in her jaw, and then spends years and years, operation after operation, trying to reconstruct her face. View all 13 comments.

I told myself again and again how good I had it in comparison. Many kids made fun. I was struck by the moment she described wearing a mask on Halloween. This book says a lot about how our society reacts to “ugliness.


The back jacket should not have promised a novel that told her story “without sentimentality”, because that’s not the same book that I cracked open. I cooked what we referred to as Lucy-Food, a steady diet of things that did not have to be chewed, soft lasagna and half-done pancakes.


I think I was most disappointed that she only mentioned her twin sister Sarah in passing. She died of a heroin overdose in She spends the majority of this book in those early years and quickly wraps it up after college.

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She had very little self-pity about her condition. Her observations of her doctors,classmates, family and friends are dead on with obtuse insight. I did a bit of research and discovered that many years ago, I had read ‘Truth and Beauty’ by Ann Patchett… who was a close friend of Lucy Grealy…. Not majorly so, just a slight shade off from totally true.

I told them to do what they felt was right. The mature Lucy beautifully phrased those different powers of her imagination.

It would define the rest of her life. Lucy’s cancer was in her jaw, and over the next five years she had several facial reconstructive surgeries that removed a third of her jawbone. Autobiography of a Face is a powerful, unforgettable novel about overcoming bullying and fzce people who you truly are. We use cookies to give you the best possible experience. What an amazing story. It gives some insight into what it’s like I learned, too, how easily readers would accept it as the only true vantage point.

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