Ugly: a memoir by Robert Hoge

Published by Viking

 

Summary:  When Robert Hoge was born in 1972, he was missing most of his left leg, his right leg was deformed, and he had severe facial abnormalities.  At first, his mother couldn’t bear the thought of bringing him home to join his four older siblings, but eventually she came around and became his staunchest defender.  Despite many surgeries to rebuild his nose, move his eyes closer together, and amputate part of his right leg, Robert strove—and for the most part succeeded—to have a happy childhood.  His memoir tells of universal kid experiences making friends, trying different sports, and getting in trouble.  It also relates the teasing he got from other kids, including his top ten list of nicknames with ratings for originality and power to hurt.  When Robert was 14, his parents told him doctors were ready to perform a big operation on him to improve his appearance.  After weighing the risks and potential rewards, Robert decided he had come as far as had with his face the way it was, and would forego the operation to move forward being himself.  200 pages; grades 4-8.

Pros:  Called by some a real-life Wonder, this book has a more matter-of-fact tone, but is inspiring nonetheless. There’s plenty of dry British humor (the Hoge family is Australian), and Robert is a quick study figuring out how to fit in with his peers without compromising his own sense of self.

Cons:  Robert’s decision not to have the final operation seemed somewhat abrupt, and left me hoping for a sequel to find out how he made it through the rest of his teen years.

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