MARKED FOR LIFE: A Story of Disguise, Discovery, and Redemption

Joie Davidow, Author . Harmony $22.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-4000-4741-3

By most standards, Davidow has lived a normal life: the eldest of three, she grew up after WWII in a small town near Philadelphia, attended college, studied voice and eventually became a journalist. She survived life's ups and downs, dealing with demanding parents who were never pleased unless she was dating a "nice Jewish boy," lamenting the death of her beloved Yiddish-speaking grandmother and launching L.A. Weekly magazine. Throughout, she carried an albatross: a large, purple birthmark that covered her left cheek. Doctors called the mark a "port wine stain"; kids in the schoolyard called Davidow "Miss Grape Juice Face" and "Bride of Frankenstein." Davidow was utterly embarrassed every time a passerby or new acquaintance asked, "What happened to your face?" She learned to turn her "good cheek" toward people when she was speaking with them. "In the mornings," she writes, "I rub and rub my left cheek with my washcloth, trying to scrub the stain off. There must be something that will make it go away." Alas, for years, there was nothing that would make her birthmark disappear. As a college student, Davidow learned to apply an intricate make-up mask, so convincing boyfriends never discovered her secret. "I don't want anyone's sympathy," Davidow insists. She's convincing; although readers will undoubtedly feel empathy for the author, this is a frank account devoid of any "woe is me" moaning. Although Davidow eventually underwent laser surgery to diminish the birthmark, the bulk of the book details how she managed to spend 40 years with her taint. Although sometimes slow, this is a thoughtful meditation on self-perception. Agent, Jane Dystel. (June)

Reviewed on: 05/26/2003
Release date: 06/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-1-4401-0995-9
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