A Face for Picasso: ­Coming of Age with Crouzon Syndrome

Farrar. Nov. 2021. 400p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780374314071.
Gr 8 Up–Henley weaves a memoir of a journey to finding one’s identity, while dealing with a life of raw physical and emotional pain. Born with Crouzon syndrome, a condition where the bones of the head fuse prematurely, Ariel and her twin sister, Zan, grew up under an umbrella of burden: the perpetual hostility of a society with strict beauty standards and the endless stream of life-saving facial surgeries. Told in segments, this memoir moves readers through Ariel’s early childhood into the overwhelming middle school experience, which is marked by trauma but also resiliency, and then into her late-teen early college years, where she finally allows herself to break from the mold of external influence. Henley effortlessly explores the immense societal importance of striving toward unobtainable beauty standards and the authentic consequences for those who seemingly fall short of it. The book also touches on eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders, and anger issues. With a perceptive analysis of the way beauty standards shape the most basic social values and a fascinating coming-of-age story told from a unique perspective, Henley’s memoir is not to be missed.
VERDICT Captivating, unflinching, and insightful, this title is highly recommend.

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