Review: Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom

not-if-i-see-you-first

Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books
Release date: January 1, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 400
Goodreads || Book Depository

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.

Combining a fiercely engaging voice with true heart, Not If I See You First is a deeply moving story which illuminates those blind spots that we all have in life, whether visually impaired or not.

MY THOUGHTS

35 stars

I received a copy of Not If I See You First from HarperCollins Australia for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Not If I See You First is about Parker Grant, a girl who became blind at the age of 7 after getting into an accident that killed her mother. This book begins during Parker’s junior year of high school, 3 months after she found her father dead in his bed. Her aunt’s family has moved into Parker’s house to take care of her, and Parker’s just having a hard time adjusting to the new routines in her life and missing her old routines with her father. On top of that, her school has merged with another in the local area and there are a lot more people around who don’t know her Rules. Among the new students at her school is her former best friend and first boyfriend, Scott Kilpatrick, who did something terrible 2 weeks into their relationship 2 years ago.

While this sounds like a pretty dark book with lots of serious issues, it was actually quite a light-hearted book. There isn’t much of an exploration of the issues of being blind and for the most part Parker seems to just blend in with those around her. There is a lot of focus on how Parker is able to do the things that those with normal vision can, such as joining the track team and running sprints. She can be handy in the kitchen and she can find her own way around the mall and go on dates just like everybody else. I enjoyed how Parker never really felt burdened by her disability and her determination at finding ways around the obstacles.

But at the same time, the novel also shows the difficulties in Parker’s life and how she has to find ways to do the things that others who aren’t visually impaired can do. She has to have a buddy at school who will tell her exactly what is written on a whiteboard, which can get pretty tricky during Trigonometry. She needs a running guide when she’s doing sprints so that she doesn’t go off course. I thought the portrayal of how a blind person lives was very realistic and I could see exactly how Parker deals with not being able to see in everyday life. It was also very interesting to see how many of the social cues Parker misses as a result of not being able to see how others react. Overall, even though this wasn’t a deep and dark contemporary about a girl struggling with her disability, I thought the element of blindness was explored very well.

“You really are blind! You can’t see you’re not the center of the universe! That other people have lives and things happen to them all the time and you know nothing about it!”

What I had a problem with was Parker’s character. She starts off pretty dislikable. She was brash, judgmental and unapologetically honest. I just found her very hard to like. She had a hard time understanding that there was more to what she knew and that there were lots of little non-verbal things that she had missed because she couldn’t see. She does go through some character development and learn that people have their secrets and things to hide and that she doesn’t always know everything there is to know about something. But even after her character growth, I still found that her to be a little bit hard to like. She continues to be unapologetically honest and I thought she lacked a bit of tact. But overall, I had a great time learning about Parker and reading from her point of view.

I enjoyed all of the friendships in this book and it was great to see how supportive Parker’s friends all were. The friends that she’s had since childhood and the new friends that she made were all wonderful and there isn’t really much I can complain about in terms of the side characters. I also absolutely loved the romance! I know that some reviewers weren’t that thrilled with the romance, but I thought it was resolved very sensibly. There were times when I thought Parker changed her mind too quickly or was a bit hot or cold, but it wasn’t a huge issue for me and I really liked how the romance played out.

This was definitely more of a character-driven story. There’s actually very little that happens in this book, particularly in the first 150 or so pages. I wished that there was a little bit more action. Besides seeing how Parker lived her daily life and her romance with Scott… there wasn’t really anything happening in this book. There wasn’t a clear climax and it just all felt one dimensional when it came to the plot. The one thing that this book had going for it was that it was incredibly fast-paced! If you’re feeling hesitant about picking this one up, I highly recommend that you do because it’s possible to fly through it in one or two sittings. This was a book that had me engaged from the beginning and I flew through it in just a few hours.

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30 thoughts on “Review: Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      I’ve never read a book with a blind main character either so this was super interesting.. Ohhh, actually… now that I think about it, I’ve read two books with blind characters. All the Light We Cannot See and Zeroes. I guess this just felt different because it was contemporary and it was a book that was all about blindness, whereas the other two that I’ve read weren’t really focused on the blindness.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Summer @ Xingsings says:

    I actually got an ARC of this back in October or November and still haven’t read it. (Fail.) But hopefully I’ll get to it in February, lol. I’m sorry our main MC is dislikable though. It’s so hard to connect to characters that you dislike making the overall reading experience less enjoyable. Thanks for the heads up!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      Hehe I think I saw it on your Instagram! I requested this one like… in August? But HarperCollins in Australia changed their YA publicist a few months ago and I guess my request got a little lost. But the new publicist reached out and asked if I wanted to read it, so I jumped at the chance. I hope you get to this one soon 🙂 It’s super super quick to read and I think you’ll be able to fly through it. You’ll just need to ignore Parker sometimes because she can get really annoying!

      Like

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      It definitely was interesting! I’ve read two other books with blind characters but those books didn’t really focus on or explore the blindness. This was the first one I’ve read that’s really explored all the issues that visually impaired people have and it was super interesting!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nick says:

    I’ve heard some mixed things about this book, but I didn’t realize until know that the protagonist was blind. I think it’s great that the author portrayed her as being able to do a lot of activities that people with functioning vision do but also the difficulties she can come across as well. I’m sorry Parker wasn’t the most likeable character though and that there wasn’t really a story to the book. I’ll have to think about this one!
    Lovely review, Jenna!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Josephine says:

    I’ve never read a story along the lines of this! I feel that I am quite lacking in the disability book department – I haven’t read any books that tackle disabilities and how people live with them. But this sounds like a nice one.
    Great review! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lydia Tewkesbury says:

    I’m really not a fan of the title, but other than that this sounds like it could be an interesting read. It makes me happy that there are more YA books emerging with disabled characters. I often feel like they are a minority that get somewhat missed out of the diversity conversation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      Yeah definitely! I feel like I read so many contemporaries where there’s a supportive best friend who suddenly becomes absent due to some petty argument that turns into a long fight. I love it when I can read about friendships that are just supportive the whole way through!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Valerie says:

    Awesome review Jenna! I also read this and liked it! But I felt that the drama was a little much unfortunately, like Parker’s reasoning for holding a grudge. Anyways, I hope others pick it up, because it seems like a really good portrayal of a blind character!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      Yeah I also thought it was a little bit dramatic. The fact that she spent 2.5 years just hating on him, without even trying to find out what happened. Definitely was over the top. But I thought the romance was kinda cute and it was a fantastic portrayal of a blind character, like you said!

      Like

  6. Ksenia says:

    I usually check out books with disability, but I haven’t heard about this one before. Thanks for putting it on my radar, Jenna! I’m a little bit weary of unlikeable heroine, but I’m intrigued. I like character-driven stories and don’t mind lack of action. Great informative review! I added it to my tbr-list.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      She’s not the most dislikeable character I’ve read about so it wasn’t too bad. I just felt like after she learnt to be less judgmental, she still felt kind of judgmental and wouldn’t stop being apologetically honest? It was a great portrayal of a blind character though, so if you love reading books about disabilities, this would be a great one to check out!

      Like

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