Saturday, September 9, 2017

Review of Ugly by Robert Hoge

By Robert Hoge
Published by Puffin Books
February 7, 2017
ARC obtained from the 2016 Annual NCTE Conference

Goodreads Summary:
Robert Hoge was born with a giant tumor on his forehead, severely distorted facial features and legs that were twisted and useless. His mother refused to look at her son, let alone bring him home. But home he went, to a life that, against the odds, was filled with joy, optimism and boyhood naughtiness.

Home for the Hoges was a bayside suburb of Brisbane. Robert's parents, Mary and Vince, knew that his life would be difficult, but they were determined to give him a typical Australian childhood. So along with the regular, grueling and often dangerous operations that made medical history and gradually improved Robert's life, there were bad haircuts, visits to the local pool, school camps and dreams of summer sports.

Ugly is Robert's account of his life, from the time of his birth to the arrival of his own daughter. It is a story of how the love and support of his family helped him to overcome incredible hardships. It is also the story of an extraordinary person living an ordinary life, which is perhaps his greatest achievement of all.

My Thoughts:
I really enjoyed this story! I read Wonder by RJ Palacio every year to my class, so it was interesting to read a "real" version of August Pullman's story. I was surprised at how truthful Robert was in his story. Some of the things that he shared about his birth and the days that followed were hard to read and I imagine hard to write and "relive". I was amazed at Robert's outlook on life as he grew up and especially as he started school. For the most part he kept a very positive outlook and really just tried to have a normal life. When he was a bit older, he had a really hard decision to make about having one more major surgery in order to even further "fix" his face. I'm not sure I would have been strong enough to make that decision if it had been me.
Overall Robert is such a courageous and strong character. When you stop and remember that he is actually a real person, it makes his story that much more powerful!

I would recommend this story for grades 4 and up.

Click here to hear his story that aired on NPR last September!