Book review: Faceless by Alyssa Sheinmel is a book for young adults about grief and survival

Rayeedah Ebrahim, 16, a pupil at Horizon Private School in Abu Dhabi, shares her thoughts about Faceless.

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Alyssa Sheinmel

Chicken House, Dh52,

Suitable for readers age 15+

We all have hobbies, right? I want you to imagine yourself doing whatever it is you love to do. Now, imagine yourself doing it with burn scars and tight skin all over your body. Can you still practice your hobby? Or has it become too painful?

For you, this is only an imaginary scenario. But for 16 year-old Maisie in Faceless by Alyssa Sheinmel, this is her new reality. Caught up in a fire caused by lightning one rainy summer morning, she’s suffers a terrible accident while doing the one thing she loves most: running. When Maisie wakes up, she is told that nearly half her face has been burned off. The good news is that she is suitable for a face transplant, a very rare but feasible operation.

Maisie goes through with the transplant but can she still be the same Maisie she was before the accident? Sheinmel has divided her novel into four parts, beginning in the summer and ending in spring. Each section explores a different phase of Maisie’s recovery process, as she mourns her old self and says goodbye to who she used to be and accepts who she is now.

Most likely, readers won’t relate to the character of Maisie because they’re in the same situation but, rather, because they too have had to say goodbye to a piece of them that used to help define their identity. Maybe a reader somewhere out there has just had to say goodbye to her closest friends. Friends who she’d never lived without, and so now she is going through those same states of grief. I don’t know about you, but personally I’m really happy that someone might find comfort relating to Alyssa Sheinmel’s heroine.

Radeeyah Ebrahim is a 16 year-old student at Horizon Private School, Abu Dhabi. She blogs about books for Scholastic Middle East at