Review

The Face

by Angela Hunt

Sarah Sims was born with Treacher Collins syndrome, a condition
that gave her such severe facial defects she was expected to die.
Now 20, she has lived her entire life in a secret CIA hideaway in
an old convent on an island near Spain. When she was a child, her
mentor, Dr. Glenda Mewton, oversaw enough facial reconstruction for
Sarah to function, but people seeing her are shocked at her mask of
a face with its scarred skin, thin and twisted mouth, and lack of
symmetry.

Sarah feels secure in the nest of her CIA home, though. She
never leaves it, not wanting to see people's reactions to her
terrible face. Dr. Mewton is something of a chilly mother figure,
and Sarah's adorable and funny best friend Judson is blind. Sarah
is the resident computer expert. She loves her work and is
inventing an innovative brain scan tool that will change how the
CIA extracts information from subjects. Sometimes she fiercely
wonders about her father, Kevin, who also worked for the CIA until
his suicide soon after Sarah's mother died in childbirth. She has
never truly missed the family she doesn't have and has no way of
knowing that her aunt Renee, Kevin's sister, has believed all along
that Sarah was a still-born.

Renee is a psychologist with a failed marriage behind her. Her
only family is her beloved dog, Elvis. She is surprised when a
storage rental business notifies her that she needs to clean out
her deceased mother's storage unit, which she didn’t even
know her mother had. Inside, she finds old papers, including a
letter that will change her life. That 20-year-old letter is from
CIA officer Dr. Glenda Mewton, giving an update on Kevin's baby,
Sarah. Dr. Mewton warns Kevin's mother that Sarah's prognosis is
doubtful and asks her to sign the papers giving up rights to the
baby so she can continue to care for her.

The news that her niece did not die at birth stuns Renee. She is
absolutely determined to find out what became of Sarah. Of course,
obtaining any information from the CIA is a very long and difficult
process. Finally, in order to get the clearances she needs, she
takes a job as a psychologist for the CIA. The door is opened to
her, and she is flown to the CIA facility that is Sarah's home.

Although Renee is warned about Sarah's face, she is still
shocked when she meets her niece. She is further appalled at the
secluded life Sarah lives. Renee suggests a face transplant, but
she meets resistance from Dr. Mewton. Sarah herself must ponder
this life-changing idea: Is her safe, known life what she really
wants? Or would she like to see the world and have new
relationships?

Narrated in first-person present tense, Sarah and Renee's
stories have an urgent immediacy, which makes THE FACE a compelling
read. The two women are well-rounded, sympathetic characters.
Thought-provoking questions arise: How important are memories, even
if they're painful? What is the connection between facial
expressions and emotions? Add some late, truly shocking plot
twists, and readers may well find themselves devouring this
excellent read in one or two magnificent gulps.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon (terryms2001@yahoo.com) on January 21, 2011

The Face
by Angela Hunt

  • Publication Date: November 1, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Mira
  • ISBN-10: 0778327272
  • ISBN-13: 9780778327271