A Mormon high school senior in small-town Alaska struggles with scars—both internal and external.
After a vicious encounter with a bear, Clara Fielding is forced not only to go through life bearing significant facial scars, but to do so without the comfort of her supportive mother, who died in the attack. Happily, Clara’s facial disfigurement doesn’t slow down her romantic life or her personal aspirations, but she assumes that her choices are all or nothing: the known or the unknown, early marriage or relationship adventures, her religious principles or her emerging passions, small-town life or big-city opportunities, local ambitions or her dream of becoming a serious writer. Eventually, Clara discovers that her options can be more nuanced than she realized. Further, after multiple experiences of others’ responses to her marred face, Clara learns that her own reaction to their reactions is what’s most important, along with her own survival. This is a poignant coming-of-age tale in which Perry’s exploration of Clara’s daily dealings with deformity and grief is sensitive and illuminating. However, Clara’s inner thoughts on a range of subjects feel repetitious and heavy-handed as part of her present-tense narration. Still, readers navigating similar dilemmas may appreciate Clara’s heartfelt angst.
Breathtakingly earnest emotions packaged in a contrived narration. (Fiction. 13-16)