Book review: Ugly

Robert and his parents after major surgery - photo from the book "Ugly"

Ugly: A memoir

Robert Hoge was born with a giant tumour on his forehead, severely distorted facial features and legs that were twisted and useless. His mother refused to look at her son, let alone bring him home. But home he went, to a life that, against the odds, was filled with joy, optimism and boyhood naughtiness.

I was moved by a story I watched on ABC Australian television some months ago about the life of Robert Hoge (Australian Story September 2013). Robert was born with a large tumour where his nose would have been and deformed legs which was later removed.  In time, and with the love of his parents, he came to terms with his facial features and lack of legs and learnt too overcome the issues that one faces in a society that places great emphasis on beauty when one is not beautiful.

This is a fascinating book by an inspirational man.  It is honest, frank and funny and throughout the book the reader clearly see the determination Hoge has with getting on with life rather than putting his disability first.   He doesn't hide from society instead he focused on moving forward regardless of what others think. In the book you read how Robert pushes beyond his fears to reach his goals even though it was very scary at times.  There is a lesson for all of us in this book.

Mary (Roberts mother) began calling anyone she could think of who might help her refuse to bring me home. . . . Her doctor's advice was very clear. 'Put him into a home,' he said, 'You have four other children and it's just not worth it.'  . . . 'Don't even consider bringing him home. Just forget about him.'

After the initial shock of Robert's birth and the advice from doctors (and a family meeting with Robert's three older siblings), Robert's parents (Mary and Vince) brought Robert home and from that point onwards they did everything in their power to keep Robert safe, provide the best possible home environment full of love and take him to endless doctors appointments and trips to the hospital. In fact the one thing that comes out of this book by Robert is the love he has for his parents and the unconditional love a parent has for a child no matter what they look like or how bad the disability is.

This book is such a good reminded to parents:

 Never stop showering love upon you children, 
no matter how old they are.

Never give up on them
 even when things look bleak.

Make sure they always know that
 you are ready to fight for them.

Make sure they know you are always
 there at any time of the day
 or night no matter what happens.

Your child needs to know that you are their one place of comfort, safety and love when the rest of the world is up against them. You are their refuge.


This is an easy book to read and I would highly recommend it.

This book doesn't have a Christian focus, however Robert and all his siblings went to the local Catholic school and I did wonder who much of what he was taught has remained with him. Regardless I think it is one that is worth reading.

I am rating this book 4.5 stars

Source: ABC News


  1. I had to chuckle at his t-shirt! Seems that perhaps he has a good sense of humour!
    What an incredibly story - will see if our local library has this :-)

    1. Yes, I got the impression he had a great sense of human. I was really impressed by his attitude. Mine came from the library.

      Have a lovely weekend.


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