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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Moonface: A True Romance by Angela Balcita

Moonface: A True Romance by Angela Balcita
Published by Harper Perennial ISBN 978-0-06-153731-8
Trade paperback $13.99

From the publisher's website:
The moving and hilarious true story of a young woman who found romance and laughter in the midst of illness
At the age of eighteen, Angela Balcita had reached a point in her life when her health could not keep up with her optimistic personality. After suffering kidney failure and after her body's rejection of the kidney her brother donated to her, she was in desperate need of a transplant.
Lucky for Angela, she had found the ultimate partner in crime: her boyfriend, Charlie. Although they had known each other for only a short period of time, Charlie offered Angela his kidney. The ensuing story is unforgettable, with readers following Angela and Charlie's journey through preparations for their respective surgeries; the procedures themselves, difficult yet emotionally riveting; the process of recuperation through the relapses; and the eventual healing—both inside and out—that greets this undeniably powerful duo.
Expanded from Angela's unforgettable "Modern Love" column in the New York Times and by turns funny, bittersweet, and heartwarming, Moonface will make readers laugh, cry, and, above all, appreciate the importance of unconditional love.

I remember reading the "Modern Love" column that inspired this terrific book and thinking, "Wow- that is true love!" When I heard that the column was expanded into a book, I had to read it.

I have a very good friend who has also undergone the same transplant. She has had kidney problems for over 20 years, and I didn't truly understand everything that she had gone through until I read Angela's book. 

It's hard to believe that people like Charlie exist: a boyfriend who is willing to give up a kidney for his girlfriend. But what is more surprising is the number of other people that Angela knew who were also willing to donate a kidney. 

Donating a kidney is not like giving your friend your car; it's a major surgical procedure and there can be serious complications.  It renews your faith in humanity, and certainly says something about what a good person Angela is to have so many people willing to sacrifice for her.

At the heart of the book is Charlie and Angela's love story. Charlie's family was understandably wary of this because Charlie was willing to give Angela a kidney, but they did not want to get married.  I loved the scene where Charlie tells his family that he is giving Angela a kidney, they reacted like any family would.

Charlie's recovery from the surgery is difficult, and at a followup doctor visit, the doctor asks him if he would do it again. Charlie says no, he wouldn't, and this devastates Angela. 

Angela decides that she would like to have a baby, and although many doctors tried to discourage her, she finally found one who believed she could do it. Again, Charlie supports her, although he worries about her. 

 Moonface is such an honest book, filled with love and joy, humor and pain. Charlie is almost too good to be true, but he is also human. Angela perseveres, not letting her lifelong illness stop her from going after things she wants. They are kooky, sharing a similar goofy sense of humor that gets them through difficult times. 

I also loved her parents, and can't imagine how hard it was for them to live through this, especially her dad, a doctor who couldn't fix his baby girl. 

Balcita writes a crisp book, filled with emotion and I found her quirky chapter titles like "The Celebrated and Adored Royal Filipino Mind Reader" and 
"The Woman Who Swallows Fire and Exhales Angels" amusing. 

It's a beautifully moving true love story that will touch your heart and make you laugh. It would make a wonderful anniversary gift for a young couple. 

rating 4 of 5 stars

Thanks to Harper Perennial for providing a copy of the book.

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