Maisie loves running. She's on the track team with a good chance of securing a college scholarship. After school, she races her boyfriend, Chirag, around town. She's out on a run when her life changes forever. When lightning strikes a nearby tree, the branches pull down the electrical wires and sparks explode around Maisie. That's all she remembers: the sparks. In Faceless, Maisie is under pressure to decide whether she wants to undergo a face transplant before her donor's tissue is no longer viable. Either she chooses not to and relies on skin grafts which must be replaced frequently, or she accepts the face transplant and has the possibility of regaining sensation in her cheeks, chin, and nose. Throughout the book, Maisie struggles with her appearance and the complicated emotions that come along with wearing someone else's skin. She begins to think of herself as Maisie 2.0.
This version of Maisie isn't a runner. This version of Maisie can't bring herself to touch her boyfriend. This version of Maisie gets stared at in the hallway and has to go to physical therapy twice a week. This version of Maisie has scars on her face and down her left side. Maisie 2.0's grades are slipping and she might not get into college.
Alyssa Sheinmel presents a compelling plot filled with multi-faceted characters who are relatable even when they are cruel. As readers, we cheer Maisie on. We hope she will come to accept her new face and grow more courageous than she was before. Despite her rage and self-deprecation, Maisie remains incredibly strong and stubborn throughout her ordeal. Over the course of the novel, she meets others with similar concerns and questions as well as reconnecting with her friends from before the accident. Maisie is a strong character not because she survives a traumatic incident, but because she struggles to survive. She does not willingly accept her circumstances, she fights against them. She proves that even a drastic change in appearance does not create an entirely new person. Rather, a drastic change can be the catalyst for uniqueness and courage to surface.
© 2015 Catia Cunha
Catia Cunha has a BA in Theater Arts and English from Mount Holyoke College. She won Young Playwrights Inc.'s 2013 National Playwriting Competition where her short play "Legs" was presented as a staged reading at the Lucille Lortel Theatre at the culmination of the Conference. In the spring of 2013 she produced and acted in her first full-length play, ____space, which was presented at Mount Holyoke. Catia's senior project, Disinsemination, a play about feminist lesbians and aliens, was presented as a staged reading at Smith College and Mount Holyoke in Fall 2013. Mount Holyoke's Rooke Theatre produced it in March 2014. In October 2014 Catia participated in the Grex Group's Insomniacs 24-hour play festival. She is currently working on a play about sea monsters in the subway.