* A People Best Book of the Year * Time and The Washington Post’s Most Anticipated List * Longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence *
From the MacArthur genius, two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, and playwright, this “captivating, insightful memoir” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) is “a beautiful meditation on identity and how we see ourselves” (Real Simple).
With a play opening on Broadway, and every reason to smile, Sarah Ruhl has just survived a high-risk pregnancy when she discovers the left side of her face is completely paralyzed. She is assured that 90 percent of Bell’s palsy patients experience a full recovery—like Ruhl’s own mother. But Sarah is in the unlucky ten percent. And for a woman, wife, mother, and artist working in theater, the paralysis and the disconnect between the interior and exterior brings significant and specific challenges. So Ruhl begins an intense decade-long search for a cure while simultaneously grappling with the reality of her new face—one that, while recognizably her own—is incapable of accurately communicating feelings or intentions.
In a series of piercing, profound, and lucid meditations, Ruhl chronicles her journey as a patient, wife, mother, and artist. She explores the struggle of a body yearning to match its inner landscape, the pain of postpartum depression, the story of a marriage, being a playwright and working mom to three small children, and the desire for a resilient spiritual life in the face of illness.
An intimate and “stunning” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) examination of loss and reconciliation, “Ruhl reminds us that a smile is not just a smile but a vital form of communication, of bonding, of what makes us human” (The Washington Post). Brimming with insight, humility, and levity, Smile is a triumph by one of America’s leading playwrights.