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The story reflected in the book Autobiography of a face is a true story of Lucy Grealy’s personal life. In her childhood, she went through numerous misdiagnoses before the physicians could realize that she was suffering from cancer. At the age of nine years, she took the illness as an adventure and was very brave and proud of it. Lucy was happy that at her tender age, she had already had a series of surgeries and other specialized treatments (Grealy 20). Nevertheless, her family was not at ease with her continued stay in the hospital. The family was relieved when she was eventually discharged from the hospital. She was received with special treatment and gifts. In Her final surgery, Lucy was subjected to a series of chemo and radiation therapies and the eventual removal of some section of her lower jaw, which left her face disfigured. However, she was not bothered with the new look until the time she was back to school and received coldly and discriminatively. In addition, Lucy encountered numerous adversities and this made her to blame herself. Moreover, she blamed herself for the never-ending financial arguments in their family and the circumstances surrounding her health, which had made her mother depressed, and her brother psychologically challenged. The book articulates Lucy’s life as she grows and deals with her family and other peoples’ attitudes towards her (Grealy 25). Lucy straggled to live against all odds. Ideally, from this story, we can actually determine the meaning of true beauty and true love.
Lucy at the tender age of nine had started facing the reality of her medical condition, which made her suffer mentally and physically. Her story is not an issue of mere medical illness issue but presents very useful and crucial social lessons. As young, as she was, she had realized the true meaning of chronic illness and; therefore, she really needed true love. However, she had spent too much time in the hospital and the family was stressed because of her intermittent hospitalization (Grealy 55). Her sisters’ behaviors become unpredictable towards her though they were polite characters. The lukewarm love shown to Lucy made her say that she could then understand the true meaning of the term visiting. According to her, they were in a different place and her family could only come to the hospital to pause. Moreover, her father was not at ease with her hospitalization and was never feeling comfortable at her bedside; thus, Lucy was relieved with his father’s unfrequented visits at the hospital. All these ideals depict how Lucy lacked true love because of her medical conditions. The family member only went to see her because she was one of them, otherwise they could have never gone to the hospital (Grealy 75).
Lucy’s indifferent treatment by her family members at home made her hopeless and desperate. Were it her wish, she could have remained in hospital where the staff and other patients gave her little hope and some expectations in life. The different treatments she received at home and in hospital made her feel shameful or guilty especially while at home than at the hospital. In fact, she blamed herself for the tribulations in her family and her mother’s depression and the arguments over money even though these elements existed before her illness. If her family had any love for her, it could have encouraged her irrespective of her look and the enormous amounts of money spent on her medical bills (Grealy 155).
The effects of the surgeries isolated Lucy from the rest of the world. At a point in her life, she started losing her hair and this made her to have a feeling that people could start looking at her uniquely and in an annoying manner. Nevertheless, she promised herself to remain naturally adept and to protect herself from such insults and she decides to instill subtle confidence in herself. In addition, Lucy’s disfigured face made her to receive numerous insults from her colleagues at schools, including her classmates among other persons. The numerous insults she received made her feel ugly (Grealy 173).
However, she experienced some relief from the insults of being ugly when she masked herself. The mask made her joyful and instilled in her some freedom and self-confidence. Additionally, her changed appearance returned her life to normal. Moreover, the mask enabled her to have a different view, perspective and approach towards life. She realized that life is only worth living with a facial reconstruction which guaranteed the restoration of appearance (Grealy 200). The relief she received from the mask changed her mood to that of escapism, determination and despair.
Nevertheless, during the reconstruction surgery, Lucy was very determined to bring out something meaningful form her suffering. All the same, in her miseries, she had visions, experienced her adolescent passion for horses and her adult age love of poetry. After the reconstruction surgery, Lucy’s inner love and physical appearance became harmonious. In effect, she underlined that the journey back to her face was a long one. Lucy’s story line relates well with what happens to the physically challenged people across the world. Some people consider them useless. In fact, some individuals despise and undermine them (Grealy 245). This book should be read world over and by everyone. I strongly believe that it has the ability to change everyone’s perception to humanity and respected everybody despite the challenges he/she might be experiencing.
The major lesion learned in this entire book is the incongruities on how we perceive our personal life and the perception of others about our lives and how identity development often influences superficial social beliefs and values. In addition, we learn that family love is not always as natural as often perceived. Essentially, the author went through hard time with her family members and friends. Finally, inner resource of a person usually determines what a person is and what he or she is capable of, regardless of his/her life challenges.