Friday, February 11, 2011

Review: Moonface

Moonface: A True Romance by Angela Balcita

Publication Date: February 2011
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers
Genre: Memoir
ISBN-13: 9780061537318

(Received for review from TLC Tours)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Books-A-Million, IndieBound

If you live in Morehead, KY or the surrounding area:
Purchase from our local independent bookseller: CoffeeTree Books
Borrow from our local library: The Rowan County Public Library

Angela Balcita on the WEB: Website, Facebook

The National Kidney Foundation's Living Donor Website

Excerpt from Moonface

Synopsis (Book Blurb):


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 that 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 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.

By turns funny, bittersweet, and heartwarming, Moonface will make readers laugh, cry, and, above all, appreciate the importance of unconditional love.


Angela Balcita's memoir is both harrowing and inspirational. Angela's life, though not defined by Kidney disease, has had some difficult twists and turns. Reader's will find her story captivating, as she recounts the story of three kidney transplants, receiving her MFA from the University of Iowa, finding the love of her life and her struggle to have a baby. It's a story that will touch hearts and leave readers feeling thankful for their own good health and ease.

Angela Balcita did expect to be in the hospital at age eighteen with kidney failure. Her young life was changed forever. Though some would have given up Angela persevered and kept her head up and her humor at life's unexpected turns intact. A transplant from her brother seemed the answer, but when her body rejected the kidney, she was back at square one. That's when love stepped in. Angela's boyfriend Charlie offered her one of his kidney's. Charlie's sacrifice was unbelievable for the woman he loved. Together Charlie and Angela prepared for and lived through the transplant surgeries, recovering together and growing in their love. Will Angela's decision to have a baby strengthen their bond or test it in a way they never expected?

I have a few mixed feelings about this book. It is very well written and uses a lot of humor in the light of a very difficult situation. I admired Angela's tenacity and her overall determination. It would be easy for someone in her shoes to have given up on life, but she didn't. She chose to not only live life, but to live it to the fullest. Pursuing a nonfiction writing degree and finding the man of her dreams. The book is very readable and will appeal to a lot of different types of readers. Her style is very personal and compelling. The story in itself is amazing, but I found myself a little unsettled about some of Angela's decisions.

My problems with it did not stem from the writing itself or the overall appeal of the book. Many readers will really enjoy this story and find it inspirational. I love reading memoirs about people who struggle with different things in their lives and how they overcome the obstacles that have been put in their path. I found Charlie to be a wonderful person, who was willing to sacrifice so much for the woman he loved, but I also felt that Angela was somewhat greedy.

When Angela took Charlie's kidney she was essentially accepting a gift from him that very few people would have been able to offer. Her decision to have a baby on the surface sounds like a wonderful thing. It sounds like she is willing to do anything for a normal life, and that's very commendable, but if you look at it from Charlie's point of view, it seems a little selfish. She even describes herself as "a greedy girl." To me it just felt wrong that she would throw away Charlie's gift. She knew that by having a child she would likely destroy the kidney and have to have another one. She also knew there were other options like adoption and surrogacy. Though none of these options is like having a child from your own body, they are no less important.

I still found this book inspirational in spite of the fact I didn't like how Angela went about things. That's in no way reflective on the book itself. I thought she did a wonderful job describing her situation and showing others the need for living donors and how important that process is. There are people out there that need donors every day. I posted a link to The National Kidney Foundation's Living Donor website and I hope that some of you will take the time to read the information and think about what you can do to help.

This book has a subheading: "A True Romance," and I believe Angela and Charlie's story is indeed a real-life romance, fraught with the same ups and downs as most relationships. But, most relationships aren't life threatening! I recommend this one to readers who love memoirs, to those who are interested in the story of someone dealing with kidney disease and transplantation, and to those who want to read a true-to-life romance.

Moonface is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples based on the inspirational aspects of the story and the writing, very well done.

Angela Balcita received an MFA in nonfiction writing from the University of Iowa. She is an editor at Imagine magazine, a publication of Johns Hopkins University. Her writing has been included in journals such as The Iowa Review and Utne Reader and named a notable entry in The Best American Nonrequired Reading, edited by Dave Eggers. She lives in Baltimore.


Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

I have a hard time reviewing memoirs, trying to separate my feelings about the book itself from my feelings about the author and her decisions. Sounds like you had a bit of that problem here, though you did a great job explaining what you had issues with and why.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this as part of the book tour.

justpeachy36 said...

Thanks for stopping by Heather. I agree that it very difficult when reading and reviewing a memoir to separate your own feelings. I tried to be objective and voice both the things I felt that were good about the book and the parts that I didn't agree with. It is a wonderful story full of courage and determination.