When a pretty, athletic girl loses her face in a fire, she gets a face transplant and struggles with the permanent changes in her life.
Sixteen-year-old Maisie loves to run track, and she secretly loves her boyfriend, Chirag, although she hasn’t yet told him. While running one morning, she’s too near a tree when it’s struck by lightning, and the resultant fire burns much of her face away. She gets the chance for a face transplant, but she will still be permanently scarred. Chirag tries to stand by her, but she believes everyone sees her as a freak, and she won’t allow him to touch her. She dreads returning to school, where Chirag and her best friend try to protect her, but they too struggle with the changes as Maisie flares with anger and lashes out. Only when she reluctantly joins a therapy group for disfigured accident victims does she learn how to cope with her plight. Sheinmel writes in Maisie’s present-tense voice, focusing on her internal anger, fears, and grief. Her depiction of a disfigured adolescent girl, already searching for herself and now suddenly forced to accept this new enormity, is compelling. As the story progresses it becomes almost a textbook explanation of psychological progression through anger and grief into acceptance, giving the story a distinctly problem-novel feel.
A problem novel, yes, but an absorbing one. (Fiction. 12-18)