Face by Benjamin Zephaniah, Paperback | Barnes & Noble


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by Benjamin Zephaniah

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Martin is a good-looking, self-assured boy who accepts a ride home from a drunken acquaintance and ends up in a horrible accident--badly burned, his face completely disfigured. Life as it was before is over...he loses his girlfriend and his friends, and finds that people are making judgements about him and how he feels without even knowing.

As Martin struggles


Martin is a good-looking, self-assured boy who accepts a ride home from a drunken acquaintance and ends up in a horrible accident--badly burned, his face completely disfigured. Life as it was before is over...he loses his girlfriend and his friends, and finds that people are making judgements about him and how he feels without even knowing.

As Martin struggles through the reconstruction of his face, he is also working hard to reconstruct his life. His character, however, remains intact. There are startling truths in this story, written with clarity and insight, which make it utterly believable and impossible to read without heartfelt empathy. Parents, librarians, teachers and mostly children will be absorbed by the story.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"The author paints a sympathetic portrait of a burn victim, who changes as much on the inside as on the outside," PW said. "Kids will tune in to this book's clear message about appearances." Ages 12-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Confident and good-looking, 15-year-old Martin Turner seems to have it all. He is the self-appointed leader of the "Gang of Three," class clown, and boyfriend of a rising model/actress. What could go wrong? Everything! After a fun evening at a local club, Martin and his friend Mark decide to take a ride from two boys they believe will take them home. Instead, the driver, dubbed Apache, speeds in the opposite direction, attracts the attention of the police, and leads a high-speed chase through the streets of London. Martin and Mark beg Apache to surrender to the police, and when he doesn't, Pete, who is sitting on the passenger side, throws a bag of drugs out of the car and into the street. In minutes, Apache loses control of the car, Pete flies through the front window, and Martin is trapped inside. When Martin regains consciousness, he learns his face has been badly burned. Now he has to find the courage to live despite his disfigured face, the loss of his closest friends, and severe depression. He braces himself rather quickly, immediately demands to see himself in a mirror, insists that he attend school once he is released from the hospital, and attempts to regain the affection of his girlfriend. Despite Martin's strides, those who refuse to look beyond the scars on his face constantly challenge him, making it difficult for him to "face the world." The novel contains slang that may be unfamiliar to some, but it doesn't interfere with comprehension. If readers can trudge through the first few dry chapters, it will be well worth the wait. The pace of the novel increases as Martin's prejudices are disclosed and then reconsidered when he is forced to understand that no one deserves to bejudged by physical appearance alone. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 1999, Bloomsbury, 207p., Ages 12 to 18.
—KaaVonia Hinton
Children's Literature
Matthew, Mark, and Martin, members of the Gang of Three, act tough, talk big, pull pranks and are generally obnoxious. It's all over when Mark and Martin accept a lift in a hot car with drug dealers and the police give chase. After the crash, Mark has broken ribs, and Martin is severely injured and his face destroyed. The driver has minor bruises and is in youth custody; the other passenger is dead. Being "Mr. Popular" and in control of his world before the accident, Martin must now return to school and see if his friends will stick by him. At first he reacts with anger and violence to the snide remarks, but promises himself to be cool and maybe the other person will learn something—he is not disabled, or diseased, or incapable. From gang leader to gymnastics captain, Martin turns his life around and becomes a model for making the most out of a bad accident. One does not have to be on top or in first place to get the most out of life. 2002 (orig. 1999), Bloomsbury USA Children's Books, Rose
School Library Journal
Gr 8-10-Accepting a ride home with a former schoolmate, Pete, after a night out, Martin and Mark, 15, are unaware that he has been joyriding in a stolen car, and the short trip turns to tragedy as he is killed and Martin's face is burned beyond recognition. The medical treatments for burn victims are described accurately, and each professional involved with the teen's care comes into play as a supporting character. Martin's emotions run the gamut from guilt and anger to fear of losing his friends and being ignored by classmates. A psychologist helps him handle looking into a mirror for the first time and he befriends another patient, whose reassurance is pivotal to his recovery. Because of his grit and tenaciousness, Martin refuses to play the victim for long. When his girlfriend rejects him and children call him "Dog face," he becomes depressed but ultimately recovers after gaining the respect of his gymnastics teammates, who name him captain. Rather than pity Martin, readers will empathize with his desire to be normal. They will also enjoy the British dance club scene and the hip teen vocabulary.-Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Looks may not be everything, but few high-school students would deny that physical appearance is connected to self-esteem and social standing. Zephaniah (Refugee Boy, p. 814) explores this theme wherein Martin, a good-looking, confident youngster, is burned and facially disfigured during a car crash. After a prolonged, somewhat tedious setup that introduces Martin and his world and then delineates his hospital stay, Zephaniah gets to the meat of his story—how Martin’s altered face affects his feelings about himself and his relationships with others. Martin proves to be a champion survivor, attending classes as soon as he’s physically able, then joining and becoming the captain of the school gymnastics team. A devastating experience—he’s surrounded by group of younger kids who viciously taunt him about his looks—temporarily drives Martin off the team and back to the safety of his room. But he soon finds the courage to soldier on, leading his team in a freestyle gymnastic routine of his own devise. By showing up and competing at the tournament, he learns that, "It’s not the winning that matters . . . it’s the being here." It’s a strong idea, but the story, which is set in Britain, never feels like it’s plumbed the depths of the situation fully. The exposition is stilted, Martin’s adjustment is too easy, and the author, by over-explaining how Martin feels and what he’s learned, doesn’t allow the reader to experience his situation viscerally. Nonetheless, a worthy subject that should give kids plenty to think about. (Fiction. 10+)

Product Details

Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
Edition description:
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Product dimensions:
5.15(w) x 7.73(h) x 0.57(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Benjamin Zephaniah is a British performance poet of Jamaican descent and travels on literary world tours for the British Council. He is the author of Refugee Boy. He currently lives in England.

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