Melvin Burgess is perhaps best known for incorporating challenging subject matter into his work for young readers and in this regard Sara’s Face (2006) is no exception.1 At face value, the book deals with some bold and arguably contentious material which seems likely to chafe at the boundaries of what some adult gatekeepers view as appropriate fare for young readers. After all, the novel introduces body hatred, cosmetic surgery, addiction, self-harm, teenage sex, mental instability and narcissism, not to mention the horror of the image of a jailed man, his face sliced away until it looks ‘like a bag of butcher’s meat’ (30). It is not hard to imagine why, given his propensity to use such provocative material, Burgess has earned himself such a reputation as the ‘enfant terrible’2 of the children’s book world. Nor, in the light of this reputation, is it difficult to imagine why so much critical endeavour has been targeted on illuminating the social and ethical dimensions of his work.
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