Sara's Face

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Melvin Burgess
Andersen Press
Jun 2006

�When Bernardette first met Jonathan Heat, she thought of him as a kind of wounded saint, a man with the power to transform the lives of others, but tragically, never his own. Yet by the end, she�d come to believe that he�d led Sara into his own doom, deep into a mental illness, in the disguise of treatment; and finally to an extreme form of self harm, in which she was willing to sacrifice herself to feed his vanity.�

The ability of the media to mythologise the famous, renouncing notions of talent, value and of worth in favour of gratification that is instantaneous and immediately apparent lies at the heart of �Sara�s Face�. A caricaturised society is depicted where idiots are idolised and idols are made idiotic.

In Jonathan Heat, Melvin Burgess has penned the fatally flawed hero of a Gothic Romance, brilliantly transposing him upon the popular iconography of modernity. The story that surrounds Heat is one that is suffused with mystery and uncertainty. In a move that parallels the lives and levels of appropriation made common in the biographical detail of many an iconic star of our age, Burgess reveals in true tabloid-sensationalist-exclusive style the degrees to which the scourge of disposability and consumerist tendencies have infiltrated popular consciousness and indeed conscience. This is not so much one of Burgess�s alleged assaults on morals, but rather an assault on the types of assault morals have been assaulted by!

Within the context of comments on childhood arising through �children�s literature� the novel challenges the manner in which the transition from childhood to adulthood is eroded and pushed back further and further by consumerist tendencies as market-forces have come to realise the weight and value of kid-coinage� Sara�s currency is her youth itself and subtle reference to the sexualised relationship she shares with Heat make for a deeply disturbing read in which her trust is continually abused.

One of the most relevant and resonant novels for teenagers published this year, underpinning �Sara�s Face� are explorations of identity, and of the mechanics via which self and society act individually, interact symbiotically and react against one another. This is a fascinating and intricate novel that holds up to repeated re-reading, revealing the complexity of its inner-workings through careful obfuscation and revelation, here is a book not to be taken at face value�

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This page contains a single entry by Jacob published on July 11, 2006 12:56 PM.

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