Not if I See You First

by Eric Lindstrom
First sentence: “My alarm buzzes and I slap it off and tap the speech button at the same time.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Review copy provided by the publisher.
Release date: December 1, 2015
Content: There’s a lot of swearing — not overly so, but enough that I wouldn’t recommend it to sensitive souls. It’ll be in the Teen section (grades 9+) of the bookstore.

Parker Grant hasn’t had an easy life. She lost her sight at age 7 when her mother crashed the car (and was killed), but she and her dad have made do. Parker found a close cohort of friends that have stuck with her through the years. With the exception of Scott, who she thought was her friend until a betrayal in 8th grade. Now, just before the start her junior year, Parker’s life just got messy again: her father accidentally overdosed on prescription meds, and she’s alone again. (Well, not really: her aunt and uncle and their family have moved in with her. Which helps, but isn’t really something she is happy about.)

(Before I go much further, I know: dead parents. I understand getting them out of the way for the purposes of the story, but wow. Merciless.)

Now, Parker has to figure out what she’s going to do. She’s coping, but not well. And when Scott shows back up at her high school (they went their separate ways in 9th grade), she has to deal with those resurfacing emotions as well.

Lest that make it sound like a love story, it isn’t really. Yeah, there’s some kissing, and some talk about love and boyfriends and such, but the ending isn’t a perfect, happily-ever-after.

I did, however, fall in love with Parker. Seriously. From the opening pages where she goes for an early morning run, and the mechanics of that, I knew I was hanging out with someone worth getting to know. And the great thing is that she was a complicated person. She was angry, she was holding her emotions about her dad, about Scott, about everything in. She was a bad friend sometimes. But she also learned and grew and changed. And there were pretty great people (who were also normal) surrounding her.

I don’t know how accurate Lindstrom’s depiction of a blind girl was, or how well it’ll resonate with people who have experience with blindness. But, I liked that he didn’t limit Parker by her “disability”. She was capable, she was smart, and yes she needed help, but she was independent in so many ways. I also liked that no one was limited by color, size, sexuality (though that wasn’t really explored), or ability. There were POCs in the book, but it was only mentioned in passing. It wasn’t dwelt upon; these were just kids hanging out, making decisions, trying to get through each day.

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