Thursday, February 3, 2011

Title: Moonface
Angela Balcita
Pages: 220
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Harper Perennial (Harper Collins)
Pub. Date: February 1, 2011

I know it’s been said again and again, but reviewing memoirs is such a difficult thing to do; the contents of these books are the authors’ actual lives, so to critique them in any way just seems wrong. Anyway, it’s been a few days since I finished this one and I’ve had time to let it simmer in my mind. While I didn’t at all dislike the book while I was reading it, I do feel that it took time to mull it over for a while to really appreciate it. This is probably because I had all these outrageous expectations for it that it fell short of, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that it is definitely well written and is a great story to tell.

Moonface is the author, Angela Balcita’s, story about parts of her life during which she struggled with kidney failure. The subtitle of the book is, A True Romance, because it tells the story of her boyfriend, Charlie, donating her one of his kidneys to her, rescuing her from her illness and being on dialysis.

This really was an enjoyable memoir, but, unfortunately for me, it was tempered by not being quite what I thought it would. I went into this memoir with certain expectations: of it being hilarious; of it being wholly a story about a new boyfriend donating his kidney, of the preparations, and all the love that must have emanated from a coupledom so fierce that even without making traditional commitments (such as marriage) her boyfriend committed to undergoing surgery and giving away a kidney. While Moonface (named after Charlie’s nickname for Angela) does touch on these elements, the delivery of it was more lukewarm than I expected. It didn’t come off as a story about him giving her a kidney but, rather, had that as one element of the story of her illness and of their lifeline as a couple. The different glimpses into their story weren’t always in chronological order -- overall the story did move chronologically, but in each time frame the stories seemed a little scattered. The eccentrically titled chapters were funny but also a little distracting for me; I found I had to return to the chapter title at the end of each chapter to figure out how it fit or what it meant. And this book wasn’t quite as hilarious as I expected either. There were definitely parts that made me smile and parts that made me tear up, but I wouldn't necessarily consider this a comedic memoir (other readers disagree with this though). Moonface also wasn’t a mushy-gushy love story, but this actually made it more authentic. Angela and Charlie are a cute and great couple, but they're also real people dealing with real life. There were times when I could feel the insecurities Angela felt when questioning if her boyfriend regretted his decision and her so badly wanting her body to not reject Charlie’s kidney, because if it did, would that be a sign?

Overall, this was a short, tepid, yet enjoyable, memoir about a young woman diagnosed with kidney disease and how her life works around this. Despite the critiques in the preceding paragraph, I did enjoy this read. Whether Angela's dealing with another transplant, trying to maintain a good relationship with her boyfriend, or excelling in school/work, she continues to live her life with this disease, and that was, for me, the interesting part of this memoir, with the “love story” being just one of the many elements contained within.


Zibilee said...

I know just what you mean about critiquing memoirs. It's almost like if you don't do well with the book you are passing judgment on the author's life, and believe me, that has come back to bite more than once. I liked your review on this one, and now that I know not to expect comedy, I might try this one!

Ms. Dawn said...

I agree. It IS hard to review a memoir. I just reviewed one on my blog and had to wait a day to do it, too. It's like you're personally judging someone's real life rather than a fictional being. But...a book is a book and writing is writing...some books and its subject and the voice it's written in will sit well with one person but not the next. Can't fault yourself for that.

Miss Remmers said...

I love the cover! It's so simple yet definitely drool worthy!

Jenny said...

Heather: yeah if my expectations had been different, I probably would have really liked this that much more.

Dawn: you're right. and I did think her writing was good.

reagan: I really like it too!

heathertlc said...

It is disappointing for me when I expect one thing from a book but get something very different, even if different = good. I'm sorry this one wasn't what you were expecting it to be, but I'm glad that you did find it to be authentic and a good read.

Thanks for being a part of the tour.

Juju at Tales of said...

Great review. I've been craving memoirs for some reason.

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