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.
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.