TITLE: Not If I See You First
AUTHOR: Eric Lindstrom
PUBLISHER: Harper Collins Children's Books
GENRE: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
RATING: 4/5 Stars
Parker Grant doesn't need perfect vision to see right through you. That's why she created the Rules: Don't treat her any differently just because she's blind, and never take advantage. There will be no second chances.
When Scott Kilpatrick, the boy who broke her heart, suddenly reappears at school, Parker knows there's only one way to react – shun him so hard it hurts. She has enough to deal with already, like trying out for the track team, handing out tough-love advice to her painfully naive classmates, and giving herself gold stars for every day she hasn't cried since her dad's death. But avoiding her past quickly proves impossible, and the more Parker learns about what really happened – both with Scott, and her dad – the more she starts to question if things are always as they seem.
What I Liked:
- While I didn't enjoy this read to begin with for a variety of reasons (more on that later) I began to realise that actually, Lindstrom's writing is so captivating and tells the story of these characters very cleverly. Because actually, this is more of a character study than anything else. I really related to the world-building: this school with it's diverse cast actually reminded me of my own school setting, even though it's set in the USA which I've often read as a totally different environment!
- I mentioned diversity, but I'll write more on this here. This book's MC, Parker, is of course blind and through her we get a representation that I have never read in a book before. Ever. Every time I stumble upon a book that is unique in it's diversity it makes me feel both sad that I haven't read more books from a blind POV, but also happy that I'm reading one now. I loved the themes covered in this book too: body positivity, friendship, LGBT characters whose sexuality is not the most interesting thing about them, etc.
- Romance is not the focus! Thank goodness! A lot of readers went into this book thinking they were going to get a 'The Fault In Our Stars' or 'All The Bright Places' style story, filled with deep-thinking teenagers who ponder frequently over the meaning of life and where tragedies such as terminal illness and suicide are romanticised in a way that is almost inappropriate. Here, this was not the case. Parker spent the entire book working out friendship issues, dealing with the grief of losing her Dad and trying to connect with family she barely knows and now must live with. Watching her grow and develop as a person was the best part.
What I Disliked:
- It took me a while to connect to this book, and this was mostly because Parker starts the story as an unacceptably nasty bitch to everyone she meets. I rolled my eyes as she snapped bitterly at almost everyone she met and the way her friends called her awful sense of humour 'snarky' and 'why they love her' made me want to throw up. This was more than sarcastic, it was downright rude and I was worried that Lindstrom was creating the most angry, one-dimensional character in history. Luckily, I was wrong!
- The thing with this novel was that there wasn't much of a story. People who wanted romance will be disappointed. People who wanted an inspiring tale of a blind girl proving that she can run as well and anyone else will be too. Even those wanting a story of the power of friendship or inclusion or a well-rounded ending will be sad. Because this is a story that hints towards all of those things, but doesn't go any further. The ending is hopeful but does not tie up every loose thread that is introduced. We as the reader can only make our own assumptions.
This was a tricky read to judge because my feelings were very mixed and I was only left with an overwhelming sense that I had enjoyed it at the end, but no real clue exactly why. I've broken it down as best as I could. The characters were impressively three-dimensional (certainly by the end of the story) and I enjoyed watching them all overcome their personal problems while learning the power of finding solace in others. Friendship is a key theme, and diversity is this book's most impressive area. It represents the blind community very well.