Monday, February 21, 2011

Review: Moonface by Angela Balcita

A memoir about renal failure, dialysis, and kidney transplants (multiple) can't possibly be funny, can it? This one can. It is funny and sweet and entertaining. Opening with Balcita and boyfriend/eventual husband Charlie's schtick about their matching side scars, the reader hears the patter they've developed to explain how Charlie donated a kidney to Angela. A neat deflection that answers questions briefly, avoids pity or unwanted sympathy, and keeps the fact of Charlie's donation to Angela from becoming the stuff of treacle, this thread of performance runs through each of the three acts of the memoir.

The first act tells the story of how Balcita, as an 18 year old, found herself in total renal failure because of kidney disease. It covers her life, Charlie's life, her first kidney transplant, their meeting and evolving relationship, the failure of her first transplant, and Charlie's decision to offer her one of his kidneys. The second act covers the donation and all of the emotional repercussions of it. The third act chronicles the next stage in their life together, including Balcita's overwhelming desire to have a baby despite the risks for her as a kidney transplant patient.

Without making light of the gravity of her situation, Balcita manages to infuse the memoir with a hopefulness and sweetness that allow the love that shines between she and Charlie to take center stage here. The humor almost masks, but doesn't quite, the fear and the pain that are always in the back of Balcita's (and Charlie's) mind as she monitors her health and whether her donated kidney continues to function as it should. She includes doubts and fears and misunderstandings that they faced seperately and as a couple so that they never become caricatures of real people. Their partnership is strong and enviable but it has all the normal bumps and bruises and Balcita does a good job showing their specialness but also their normality.

The book is a very quick read as readers follow along wanting to know what drives Charlie to donate his kidney, whether they will ultimately end up married, if the kidney continues to function, whether they can have a baby, and what happens when a dream, the best dream of all, jeopardizes reality. At one point Balcita says that she doesn't understand the image of giving someone your heart to represent love. In her case, the ultimate gift has, of course, been the receipt of a kidney, a literal piece of the body, the biggest declaration of love possible. Memoir readers will definitely enjoy this upbeat tale of love and family and kidneys.

For more information about Angela Balcita and the book be sure to visit her webpage.

Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and the publisher for sending me a copy of the book for review.


  1. Always good when you can laugh in a situation like that... Sounds like a good book!

  2. I've not heard of this one before, but it sounds interesting. I like it when people can do subjects like this lightheartedly.

  3. A story of "love and kidneys" is definitely not something I'd ever have though of but this one sounds like a real treat. I can't wait to read it myself!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour - I'm glad this book was a good fit for you.


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