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A special thank-you to Smile Rac for the book recommendation!
Title: Ugly by Robert Hoge
Robert was born with some major birth defects (a growth in the middle of his face and deformed legs) because of a medication his mother took while he was in utero. His life is a tale of resilience and the quest to fit in in a world that too often judges people based on appearance. Though the cards are stacked against him, Robert comes of age as a well-adjusted young adult, demonstrating to all that a person’s looks don’t define who they are as a person.
Wow–what a refreshing and well-timed book! There is so much talk nowadays about acceptance and mainstreaming children with special needs, but that was not the case back when Robert was a child. It was even a fight for him to be accepted into his own home!
Robert’s memoir is poignant and entertaining at the same time. His wry humor helps take the edge off of some very painful experiences and helps the reader to identify with the human behind the hurt. The narrative is detailed enough to keep the attention of older readers, but simple enough that it’s still accessible to a younger audience. I appreciate that Robert left out offensive language, etc. which would have been questionable for the younger crowd.
The surgery which doctors performed on Robert’s face took place during the early days of craniofacial surgery. Truly he underwent a groundbreaking surgery which helped pave the way for so many after him. I thought that was pretty interesting, though I don’t know that he feels particularly heroic for doctors having experimented on his face when he really had no say in the matter. I’m not sure how I would feel about that, if I were in his place.
For any child or parent who has a friend or family member with special needs, this is an especially important read. When you feel different it can be very cathartic to hear from others who have gone through the same experiences. It leaves you feeling a little less alone, a little more hopeful, and a whole lot more understood. I highly recommend Ugly to all kids–elementary through teens. For those with a personal tie to special needs or those who have experienced bullying, I recommend it doubly!
Rating: 4 Stars
Until next time…