Book Reviews

Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy | Book Review

Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy | Book Review Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
Genres: Memoir, Non-Fiction
Original Publication Date: 1994
Source: I purchased this book
Find the Author: Goodreads, Amazon

At age nine, Lucy Grealy was diagnosed with potentially terminal cancer. When she returned to school with a third of her jaw removed, she faced the cruel taunts of classmates. It took her twenty years of living with a distorted self-image and more than thirty years of reconstructive procedures before she could come to terms with her appearance. In this lyrical and strikingly candid memoir, Grealy tells her story of great suffering and remarkable strength without sentimentality and with considerable wit.

Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy is like no other book I’ve ever read.

When Lucy was nine years old, she was diagnosed with a form of cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma. Her likelihood of survival was slim.

Lucy Grealy’s Face Was Disfigured

After her surgery to remove part of her jaw, Lucy was permanently disfigured. She had to endure the cruel taunts of her classmates. She also came from a highly dysfunctional family.

Many more surgeries followed to “correct” the disfigurement but they were ultimately unsuccessful and came at a terrible emotional cost to Grealy.

Here is an audio interview with Lucy from 1994:

You can listen to a song written about Lucy by Trampled By Turtles:

Final Analysis

Since I knew the eventual outcome of Lucy’s story I expected to be depressed while reading it.

But Lucy was so self-deprecating and had such a sly sense of humor that I enjoyed it tremendously. She wrote several other books but this book is her most lasting legacy.

This book was a huge success for Lucy, giving her the attention that she craved. Alas, it was not to last.

I highly recommend Autobiography of a Face. It is a book that you will not soon forget.

You can read more about Lucy here.

Please read my review of Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton.

Thank you for reading The Literary Lioness!

About Lucy Grealy

Lucy Grealy (1963–2002) was an Irish-American writer who wrote Autobiography of a Face in 1994. This critically acclaimed book describes her childhood and early adolescent experience with cancer of the jaw, which left her with some facial disfigurement.

I love books, writing, film, and television.

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