ARC Review: A Face for Picasso by Ariel Henley | Teen Ink

ARC Review: A Face for Picasso by Ariel Henley

October 29, 2021
By Bella_Queen DIAMOND, Plymouth, Ohio
Bella_Queen DIAMOND, Plymouth, Ohio
70 articles 25 photos 65 comments

Favorite Quote:
Keep your face always toward the sunshine and shadows will fall behind you.
-Walt Whitman


A Face for Picasso by Ariel Henley was a raw, emotional tale about twins struggling to find their place in the world with Crouzon Syndrome. It was inspirational and perfectly written; a genuine piece of art that didn’t hide the hard parts of facial reconstruction surgery. Instead, it focused on them, detailing the pain so others can know they are not alone in their sadness and anger. The book is about the author, Ariel, and her twin, Zan. They both suffer from Crouzon, a condition that makes the sutures in the head fuse prematurely. To help the condition, Zan and Ariel underwent several surgeries to “fix” their faces, but the result made them feel like aliens in their own skin. As the story moves throughout the hardships the twins faced, it also reveals bits and pieces about Picasso and the issues women face in society.

Not only is the book extremely inspirational but also heartbreakingly true. It offers insight on how hard and brutal surgery, and the recovery process, can be. Ariel fully explains the difficulties behind it, something that I imagine can be hard to relive. Her strength and honesty struck a chord in me, and I imagine many other readers. 

There are no other memoirs about this kind of suffering, which marks Henley as a pioneer writer of her condition. She is beautifully paving the way for other writers suffering from similar conditions and is giving them a voice to tell their own stories. A Face for Picasso is one of those books meant to become something great, and I have no doubt that it will go down in history as the book that sparked something in every reader. Compassion. Understanding. Emotional release. Any number of feelings that may lie trapped inside, much like Henley’s fears were hidden for so long behind her anger.

The bits and pieces about Picasso and his abusive ways added another layer that was used perfectly to describe society’s beauty standards. If you are not beautiful, who will accept you? This was a common subject in the book, something that makes us think about what kinds of people there are in this world. Those who hate and mock, and those who accept and love. Throughout her life, Henley writes about friends and foes, those who accept, and those who do not, which makes you think about who your true friends are.

To say the least, this book was truly an artistic masterpiece. Henley is one of the rare souls who can write about their pain and send it out into the world, raw and unyielding. She is beautiful, inside and out, and so is her book.



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