MOONFACE

Angela Balcita

At the age of eighteen, Angela Balcita had reached a point in her life when her health could not keep up with her optimistic personality. After suffering kidney failure and after her body’s rejection of the kidney her brother donated to her, she was in desperate need of a transplant.

Lucky for Angela, she had found the ultimate partner in crime: her boyfriend, Charlie. Although they had known each other for only a short period of time, Charlie offered Angela his kidney. The ensuing story is unforgettable, with readers following Angela and Charlie’s journey through preparations for their respective surgeries;

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At the age of eighteen, Angela Balcita had reached a point in her life when her health could not keep up with her optimistic personality. After suffering kidney failure and after her body’s rejection of the kidney her brother donated to her, she was in desperate need of a transplant.

Lucky for Angela, she had found the ultimate partner in crime: her boyfriend, Charlie. Although they had known each other for only a short period of time, Charlie offered Angela his kidney. The ensuing story is unforgettable, with readers following Angela and Charlie’s journey through preparations for their respective surgeries; the procedures themselves, difficult yet emotionally riveting; the process of recuperation through the relapses; and the eventual healing—both inside and out—that greets this undeniably powerful duo.

Expanded from Angela’s unforgettable “Modern Love” column in the New York Times and by turns funny, bittersweet, and heartwarming, Moonface will make readers laugh, cry, and, above all, appreciate the importance of unconditional love.

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  • Harper Perennial
  • Paperback
  • February 2011
  • 240 Pages
  • 9780061537318

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About Angela Balcita

Angela Balcita received her MFA in nonfiction writing from the University of Iowa. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Iowa Review, and Utne Reader, among other publications. She lives in Baltimore with her husband and daughter.

Praise

“[Angela Balcita’s] story is a sweet testimony to the power of family, love, perseverance, and hope. And three cheers for her husband, Charlie, a natural comic and all-around great guy.”
— Julie Metz, New York Times bestselling author of Perfection

“Girl meets boy, girl gets boy, girl gets kidney. . . . Moonface is full of people doing the best they can to take care of each other, and reading it is a rare refresher course in ordinary human kindness.”—Marion Winik, author of First Comes Love and The Glen Rock Book of the Dead

“What makes Balcita’s memoir so brightly entertaining is the unequaled sense of humor and perspective with which she and her devoted boyfriend-cum-spouse, Charlie, challenge these health problems. Certainly, Balcita’s pitch-perfect prose and intrinsic sense of timing don’t hurt either.”—Booklist

Discussion Questions

What do you think the role of humor is in Moonface and Charlie’s relationship?

Imagine Joel’s thought process as he decides to donate his kidney to his sister. If a family member needed a kidney, would you volunteer to get tested as a possible donor? Why or why not?

What do you know about our current system for people who need a donated organ? Should donors be compensated for donating an organ? Would compensation be seen as coercion, or as unfairly pressuring people from lower socio-economic backgrounds into donating?

How does Moonface’s outlook on her medical condition change throughout the book? How does meeting Charlie affect her perspective on her illness? How does losing the second kidney further affect her perspective?

How do you imagine Moonface and Charlie explaining the illness and the kidney donation to Birdie?

For much of the story, Charlie and Moonface move from one town to another. How does Moonface use the scenery or landscape to express the state of her health or mood?

Moonface brings up the issue of pain a few times in the book. What different kinds of pain is she talking about? In what ways does she try to suppress or to deal with the pain she’s feeling?

Were you surprised when Charlie confessed to the surgeon that, given the opportunity, he wouldn’t donate his kidney over again? Why or why not? How do you think Moonface’s interpretation of what Charlie said differ from what Charlie meant to say?

Moonface seems to have trouble accepting the sacrifices that people have made for her. Why? What helps her come to terms with her feelings?

How do you think Moonface and Charlie’s relationship would be different if they didn’t have the transplant? How have the crises in your own life affected your personal relationships? Could you imagine your life without these crises?