The Flawless Skin of Ugly People

The Flawless Skin of Ugly People

Here’s the little (and I mean little) blurb on the back of this book:

Thanks to “Ugly Betty”, we’re finally ready to read a love story about a couple that isn’t sleek, slick, tucked, pulled or plastic.

That made me want to read the book. I like Ugly Betty, so that made me think that this book was going to have the same tone: quirky fun with a lot of heart.

Well, it didn’t really turn out that way. Quirky? Check. Heart? Double Check. Fun? Not so much. It’s actually a pretty darn depressing book. But the good thing is that it’s short, about 200 pages, so it goes by fast and you don’t really want to put it down. If it had been long and depressing I would have hated this book, but short and depressing is ok with me, so I liked it.

  1. It’s not so much a “love story” as one side of a love story. It’s from the point of view of Hobbie who is in his late 30’s and has severe acne (which he’s had since he was a teenager). I don’t mean a few pimples here and there, but like face disfiguring, children running away kind of acne. Of course, this is all from his point of view, so it’s very likely that it’s not as bad as he thinks it is. Our flaws are always more apparent to us than to other people. But still, it sounds pretty bad.
  2. His “wife” (they aren’t legally married, but have been living together for so long, they might as well be) has a severe eating disorder (that has also been plaguing her since she was a teenager) and has checked herself into a weightloss clinic. We never get her side of the story as she’s off at the clinic for most of the book and refuses to let Hobbie contact her while she’s there. She does send him increasingly cryptic letters as she starts getting to the root of her weight issues.
  3. To add even more psychosis, they met and fell in the love when they were 15 and confessed to each other that they’d both been molested by their deacon. So basically, these people are Fucked. Up.
  4. Anyway, so this book is about Hobbie finally growing up. He hasn’t been without his wife since they were teenagers and for the past 15 years they’ve pretty much cut themselves off from the world, living in the “anonymous” suburbs, moving from place to place when people started recognizing them. They’ve basically been in stasis, never shedding their fucked up teenage selves. Now he’s by himself (though he has the cutest dog ever that goes with him everywhere) and has to figure out what to do with his life. Through a series of events he winds up staying with his father-in-law and creates a family/support system (which he needs because there is some dark and twisty drama that I won’t reveal) and then he sets out to find (or “save”) his wife.
  5. This book got to me mostly because I could relate to the characters. I’ve never been molested (thank god), but I had bad acne in high school (and my skin still isn’t perfect) plus I’ve struggled with my weight all my life. There’s this part (this is going to be gross, you may want to skip down to the next paragraph) were Hobbie talks about the stress relief he gets from picking all his pimples. Even though he knows it only makes things worse, he can’t stop himself. Man, can I relate to that.
  6. Plus their whole relationship is very reminiscent of my relationship with my boyfriend. We’ve been together since high school as well (though we didn’t bond over some terrible event like the characters of this book). Sometimes I feel like we haven’t really changed much since high school, like maybe we’re holding each other back? I don’t know, that’s a whole other post entirely. But this book made me think about it.
  7. The writing is very clear and concise compared to the last book I read and the characters were well thought out. Honestly, I would LOVE it if Doug Crandell wrote this book again but from the wife’s point of view because I think it would would be equally as interesting (possibly more so).
  8. Despite being somewhat depressing (though there are some funny parts/characters, too, it’s not all acne and sexual abuse), it has a very hopeful ending. Plus, like I mentioned, lots of heart. I can count one on hand the number of books I’ve read that made me cry and this is one of them. I genuinely cared about the characters and their outcome. There’s a part near the end of the book when Hobbie has finally tracked down his wife and I swear my heart was practically beating out my chest with anticipation.
  9. Definitely recommended if you are looking for a quick read that’s quite the emotional roller coaster.

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