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Staff Picks: Ugly

Exactly how much can your physical demeanor influence your choices and the path you travel, from the moment you are born onward? Robert Hoge explores this question in his autobiography “Ugly,” which covers his life from birth to 17 years old. Hoge was born with twisted legs and a tumor in the middle of his face. He will have undergone multiple surgeries by the time he reaches school age, and while the tumor will be removed and prosthetics provided for his legs, he will, of his own omission, never have “normal” physical features.

Cover_UglyHoge goes on to share a childhood filled with humor, love, a big family, and many school adventures. Robert is honest and open about his experiences both physically and emotionally, binding an in-depth examination of his physical make-up and details of his surgeries with bullying occurrences and his joy in finding a sport he can fully participate in.

Hoge is about as candid as you can get in “Ugly” and for that I think children, teens, and adults alike will appreciate this book. It can’t be easy to write about your mother initially refusing to take you home and eventually having your older siblings cast a vote to decide if you should remain in the family or be given up for adoption. Yet, somehow Hoge infuses the story with humor and heart while gradually exposing the loving bond he forms with his mother and the rest of his family. In many ways, Hoge grew up as lucky children do, with a secure home life, plenty of space to run around and make trouble in, and the opportunity to seek hobbies he enjoyed. Hoge is easy to relate to, has a sense of humor that will easily induce laughs, and invokes a story that’s meant to be shared.

For me, the only thing better than reading an awesome biography or autobiography is to listen to its author read his or her words aloud. I listened to “Ugly” on audiobook, as read by Hoge (in his awesome Australian accent), and it was a wonderful experience to be able to hear him voice his life stories, with all of his own nuances and inflections. It’s a great book, whether you read the physical copy or listen to the audiobook; I recommend it either way!

You can put “Ugly” on hold in our catalog right now. While you wait, be sure to check out the suggestions for other reads in the “You Might Also Like These …” section of the catalog.

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