From Publishers Weekly
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.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From the Inside Flap
Attractive and successful, Joie Davidow presents a confident face to the world. But her carefully applied makeup conceals a secret she has kept for decades. She was born with a port-wine stain, a purple mark that covers most of the left side of her face, including her eye. Tormented as a child, shunned as a teenager, she thought of herself as deformed and ugly until, in her second year of college, she discovered cosmetics that would allow her to hide the mark on her face. She learned to paint on a mask that made her appear normal, if not downright beautiful. Suddenly she was no longer ?the girl with the big purple mark.? Behind the mask she was safe, protected from the astonished eyes and unkind remarks of strangers. Her deception was her freedom, but it was also her imprisonment, a threat that never left her. For most of her life she feared that a hot, humid day, a strong wind, an errant tear, or even a fervent embrace would destroy the face she had so painstakingly created, revealing her shameful secret.
While hiding behind the mask, she became a newspaper editor, then a magazine publisher. She sat front and center at runway shows in Paris, London, Milan, and New York. She was an authority on all things glamorous, appearing frequently on television. But alone at night, she washed her face and saw a disfigured woman in the mirror. Marked for Life
chronicles Joie?s coming of age with a facial difference and a family who tried to deal with the purple mark by denying its existence. It is the story of Joie?s search for a man whose love she could trust despite her marked face, and her passion for the man who loved and accepted her.
It is the story of how she refused to be defined by the stain that disfigured her and how, finally, she came to realize that, despite being ?marked for life,? she is really just another face in the crowd, no different from anyone else.
Written with honesty, wit, and a true storyteller?s gift, this book will resonate with all of us who have at times felt that we, too, were secretly marked and somehow different from the rest of the world.