Eric Lindstrom’s debut novel, Not If I See You First, isn’t your typical teen YA lit. Parker Grant, the novel’s main character, is fierce and headstrong. She’s also blind.
“Don’t deceive me. Ever. Especially using my blindness. Especially in public.
Don’t help me unless I ask. Otherwise you’re just getting in my way or bothering me.
Don’t be weird. Seriously, other than having my eyes closed all the time, I’m just like you only smarter.”
But even though she lost her vision and experienced the tragedies of losing both parents, Parker still has to go through the things all teenagers deal with: friendships, bullies, homework, and romance. She doesn’t hide because of her impairment, but rather dons patterned scarves over her eyes and gives blunt advice to classmates outside of school in the mornings. One thing she doesn’t do is give second chances.
Scott Kilpatrick broke her heart and learned that the hard way. By the end of the novel, however, Parker learns she’s been blind in ways that have nothing to do with her eyes.
The characters are complex; there are no heroes or villains because each character has his and her own good and bad qualities. The reader sees things through Parker’s eyes (pun intended), and while we may not like some characters at the beginning, we learn about them just as Parker does and come to understand them as she does by the book’s end.
Though there’s no shortage of YA books about characters with disabilities or chronic illnesses or life circumstances that make them far from average, Not If I See You First is the first YA novel I’ve read where the main character was blind. Parker herself doesn’t even realize what the friends she’s made at her new school really look like until another character points things out to her. There are no descriptive passages to set the scene – no sweeping descriptions of landscape, but instead we “see” how Parker “sees”; we hear and feel her surroundings and especially her emotions and thoughts. That’s what really sets this book apart – its unique perspective.
I’d be interested to see this translated to other mediums. An Audiobook version, perhaps? Though, it would definitely be interesting to see how this would translate to the big screen and how the characters and settings would be interpreted and presented.
One thing’s for sure, if you like novels by John Green and Rainbow Rowell, you’ll definitely enjoy this; it’s powerful and thoughtful as well as engaging and relatable. It’s a book that all ages, young adult or young at heart, will enjoy. Though this is Lindstrom’s first foray into YA Lit, I certainly hope it’s not his last!
Not If I See You First will be released today, December 1st, 2015 – it’s definitely one to put on your Christmas list!
A copy of this book was provided by the literary agent for review.