Remember all those sad, weepy, and make you curl into a ball of hopeless emotion books that came out in the mid '90s (a'la "Don't Die, My Love")? Making Faces is those books older sister. Prepare to feel like you are being repeatedly gut punched.
Fern is your typical ugly swan character who we see through flashbacks has always loved Ambrose from afar. Ambrose is the typical good looking athletic guy who feels the weight of other's expectations. To escape these overwhelming feelings, Ambrose signs up for the Army. He then convinces his four buddies to follow him. As you can imagine, in books like this, it does not end well. The bulk of the story involves Fern helping Ambrose come out of his shell and learn to live again.
Now, I said the bulk of the story, but imagine Ambrose and Fern as being 50% and the other half being Bailey's story. Oh, Bailey, Bailey, Bailey. This story was as much about him as Fern and Ambrose. Bailey is Fern's cousin and has muscular dystrophy. You know all that gut punching I was talking about, yeah, this is it. You get to read about how he desperately loves wrestling but except for one brief shinning moment will never do it, keeps up the funny, loveable, wiseguy routine to make others comfortable in his presence, have a low moment and revel in it because he damn well deserves it, hurt for him with his unrequited love, and watch as he heals Ambrose almost as much as Fern does.
The other side character is Rita. She is all that is beautiful, popular, and Bailey's unrequited love. She also marries an abusive man and proceeds to live a not so beautiful life. Her character remains on the sidelines but delivers a soliloquy about how she feels about Bailey that is so brutally authentic, honest, and yes, beautiful that she becomes a decent part of the story too.
Are all these instances, and a few I didn't mention to avoid spoiling it all, and characters pretty contrived? Yes, this story is set up for maximum crying overload. Think Hallmark commercials. However, the storyline flowed very well and I never felt like a character or problem came out of nowhere; it felt very organic for the type of story this is.
A few, personal, issues I had with this was that it is New Adult. I'm a 31yr old woman, I need my sexy times (classy ones, of course ;). The feelings and emotions stay true to the New Adult category and I missed more of a sense of maturity. If you couldn't tell, New Adult is not usually for me, so rating this 4stars really says something about the quality. Also, there is a continuous, not overpowering but very present, thread of religiousness I prefer not to have in my books.
Shakespeare is quoted with frequency and a personal favorite Lord Byron poem is used, all quite wonderfully I assure you. Anyway, I would definitely recommend this book if you want to have a constant ache in your heart the whole time you are reading and don't mind the caveats I mentioned.