Smile: The Story of a Face 


will be published October 5th, 2021

Now available for pre-order



At the height of her career, with her first play opening on Broadway, and a happily married mother of three, Sarah Ruhl had just survived a high-risk twins pregnancy when she discovered the left side of her face completely paralyzed. She is assured that ninety percent of Bell’s palsy patients see spontaneous improvement and experience a full recovery. Like Ruhl’s own mother. Like Angelina Jolie. 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, witty, 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 tiny children, and the desire for a resilient spiritual life in the face of illness.

Brimming with insight, humility, and levity, Smile is a triumph by one of America’s leading playwrights. It is an intimate examination of loss and reconciliation, and above all else, the importance of perseverance and hope in the face of adversity. 


Book Signings & Events



October 5th 

Savoy Bookshop at The United Theatre

in conversation with Annie Philbrick, Owner of Bank Square BooksCome in for a special after-hours event.  

Learn More

October 6th

Books on the Square
Come in for a special after-hours event.  Sarah Ruhl will be signing her new book Smile: The Story of a Face on Wednesday, October 6th at 6:30 p.m.
Learn More


October 9th

Bookends & Beginnings with Piven Theatre

Outdoor Book Signing & Conversation with Polly Noonan

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October 10th 

The Chicago Humanities Festival
In conversation with theater artist, director, and educator Jessica Thebus.    Learn More


October 14th 

Co-presented by BAM and Greenlight Bookstore

In conversation with Mary-Louise Parker

Learn More


November 10th

Symphony Space in conversation with Cynthia Nixon 
Learn More



Editor's Choice "8 New Books We Recommend This Week"

Read "When I Lost My Smile" in VOGUE

"The 20 Best Books to Read This Fall"

Listen "Sarah Ruhl Reflects on Change, Illness, and Parenthood in New Memoir" on NPR

Listen to the unabridged audiobook of Smile on Amazon

*Please contact her publicist, Anne Tate Pearce, at if you would like to schedule an engagement with Sarah.