Pros: Unusual read about love, family, and beauty
Cons: Some tough subjects and scenes to handle
Rating: 5 out of 5
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Doug Crandell’s The Flawless Skin of Ugly People isn’t my usual sort of read, but when I heard about it over at Baby Got Books I had to enter the contest for a free copy, and I ended up landing it. I’m very glad that I did.
The Flawless Skin of Ugly People is a most unusual tale of love and family. Hobbie has lived with grotesque facial acne since he was a teen. His common-law wife, Kari, is grossly overweight and has shut herself in a fat farm, decreeing that he is to have no contact with her beyond the daily letters she sends him.
Hobbie has shut himself away at a rural cottage with their pup, Terry, seemingly content to wait for her until the day that a starving bear throws his quiet, simple life into total disarray. Both Hobbie and Terry find themselves painfully injured, and Hobbie can’t hide away from people when he’s in the hospital. His father-in-law, Roth, takes him in while his cottage is made off-limits, and Hobbie wishes to go back to being anonymous and alone.
The harder he tries to be alone, however, the more his life seems to trip him up, and soon he’s off trying to find Kari in the company of a new makeshift family: Roth, Roth’s ex-wife Sally, and Sally’s (ex-?)boyfriend Donny.
The more Hobbie tries to find Kari and escape his new situation, the more he’s forced to deal with the real world—and face the teenage horrors that sent him and Kari into hiding from the world in the first place.
There are parts of this book that make it quite difficult to read. Hobbie’s stress-relieving ‘facial’ is nothing short of grotesque, and the molestation that scars his and Kari’s teenage years is depicted starkly and unflinchingly. There’s something uplifting, however, about seeing such messed-up and normal people work their way through difficulties and become stronger for it. There are no falsely beautiful people in here, either inside OR out—just real people, going through real things and trying to find real compromises and answers.