Ugly: A Memoir

UglyUgly: A Memoir
Written by Robert Hoge, Illustrated by Keith Robinson

Publisher’s Summary:
Robert Hoge was born with a tumor the size of a tennis ball in the middle of his face and short, twisted legs, but he refused to let what made him different stand in the way of leading a happy, successful life. This is the true story of how he embraced his circumstances and never let his ‘ugly’ stop him from focusing on what truly mattered.

Primary Source Pairing:
Robert Hoge is a fascinating man with an incredible story. His memoir gives us a front seat view of this life – the challenges and the celebrations. For this primary source pairing, use a TED Talk Robert Hoge gave in 2015. The TED Talk is a similar story to what we read in Ugly: A Memoir, but to be able to see and hear him tell his story is a powerful extension of his written text. Use the Library of Congress Primary Source Analysis Tool for an Oral History. Some of the components may need to be altered, but the majority of the question prompts will apply to Mr. Hoge’s talk and allow students to think deeper about his message of owning your face. Use the following quote from the Ted Talk to guide the discussion.

“You can own your face, too. Owning is choosing. Choose to accept your face. Choose to appreciate your face. Don’t look away from the mirror so quickly. Understand all the love, and the life, and the pain that is part of your face, that is the art of your face. Tomorrow when you wake up, what will your choice be?” -Robert Hoge, Ted Talk (15:23-15:52)

For an editable PDF version of the Primary Source Analysis Tool, click here. Choose “Oral Histories” from the Any Format drop-down menu.

Questions for Discussion:

  • Describe what you notice.
  • Do you notice any accent?
  • What can you tell about the person telling the story, and about that person’s point of view?
  • What is the significance of this Ted Talk?
  • Is it more personal or historical?
  • How does encountering this story firsthand change its emotional impact?
  • What can you learn from Robert Hoge’s story?
  • Make a connection with what you hear to what you read in the book.

Book Cover and Summary: Follett
“Own Your Face” Ted Talk by Robert Hoge YouTube Link: