Autobiography of a Face

Essay by yoohoo03High School, 10th gradeA+, March 2003

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The Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy is an autobiography of a girl who turns her misfortune into an encouraging story that is engaging and engrossing. At age nine, Lucy Grealy was diagnosed with a potentially terminal cancer. When she returned to school with a third of her jaw removed, she faced the cruel taunts of her classmates. She spent the next twenty years being treated differently for "looking different" from the rest of the world. Yet with all the hardships in her life, Grealy overcame childhood cancer, permanent disfigurement, and ultimately the deep bottomless grief called ugliness; she learned to embrace her inner self and true beauty.

Lucy Grealy was born in Ireland. Her family consisted of her parents, her two older brothers, an older sister, twin sister, and Lucy herself. Grealy's family had immigrated to America and Sarah, Lucy's twin sister, and Lucy were four. Lucy's life was perfectly normal until a simple accident in fourth grade, when the right side of her jaw collided with Joni Friedman's head in Physical Education.

Because of this pure accident, Lucy Grealy's life was completely changed. At the age of nine, Lucy Grealy was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer called Ewing's sarcoma, in which the reasonable chance of survival was given at five percent.

Thanks to radical surgery involving the removal of third of her jaw and years of radiation and chemotherapy, Lucy Grealy recovered from her disease, despite its low survival odds. However, the physical pain she suffered turned out to be far easier to endure than her sense of disfigurement and her isolation from other children. In high school, Lucy's worst fears came true. Everyday, she was teased by a group of boys about the way she looked. Often after her daily meeting with...