Book Review: Not If I See You First

Not If I See You First 
Author: Eric Lindstrom 
Published by: Harper Collins Children’s Books 
Publication Date: 1 December 2015 
Page Count: 310 
Advanced copy kindly provided by publisher 
Audience: Young Adult – Contemporary Fiction 

I had never really considered all the intricacies of what it would be like to be blind. In Not If I See You First, Eric Lindstrom opens the readers’ eyes (pun intended) to some of what a blind person must deal with, but he goes about it in a way that makes you not feel pity for the character in his book. As you read, you fall in love with the strong character that Parker Grant is.

Not If I See You First is about Parker, a seventeen-year-old girl just trying to make it through her everyday life at school and home after her father’s sudden death, but with a twist. She is blind, has been since a car accident when she was a kid. She loves to run and wants to try out for the track team, she is also a quasi-psychologist for her classmates, and is also learning the ins and outs of dating. She is quick-witted and is not afraid to speak her mind, which can get her into trouble sometimes, but she doesn’t care. She has rules, as well, that everyone must follow or she will drop you like yesterday’s news. She doesn’t give second chances. And then the boy she loved, the boy who betrayed her number one rule, comes back into her life and sends her on a roller coaster ride of emotions; and he makes her rethink her own rules…maybe there is wiggle room for second chances. 

I loved this book. I loved the story line, and the characters, and the heart behind the writing. I cannot express how much I enjoyed reading this story.

The characters are each strong in their own right. Not just Parker, but also her closest friends: Sarah, Molly, Faith, Scott, Jason, even her seeming enemies and family are so well developed, I love them all. The fierce loyalty her friends show her is felt through the pages, and Parker’s strong personality is a force to be reckoned with. She doesn’t take being blind lying down, no, she takes it running at top speed. Her little quirks, like wearing a scarf over her eyes instead of sunglasses is not just a fashion statement, but also shows her personality. Lindstrom put quite a bit of time and effort into his characters, fleshing them out and making them fly off the pages. Parker is by far my favorite character. If I went to high school with her, I would want to be her friend, to be a part of that special group she so carefully chooses to be close to.

I have never really imagined what day-to-day life would be like if you were blind. I can only imagine how much harder it would be to get through school, especially high school. But it’s the little things you don’t really think about: the alarm wakes her up in the morning, but she has to hit another button to find out exactly what time it is; everything is audio, from her alarm clock to her books she has to read for school, to the texts she gets on her phone, and so much more. One of her rules is to let her know if you enter or leave her space because she would have no way of knowing. Just to walk to school, or to shop in the mall, she counts steps so she knows where she is, to become familiar with the area. When she runs on the track, she needs to have someone tell her is she is veering the wrong way, and you even see the characters adjusting their language to make it easier on her to understand. These are just a few of the many examples throughout the book. Lindstrom had to have spent hours researching and thinking through every single scene to make sure it would be accurate. I’m sure everybody is different in how they learn and adapt, not just the blind or handicapped, but Lindstrom finds a way to make it work for his main character, and I applaud him for that. It was such an entertaining read,

I would love to read more of Parker and her friends. They warmed (not wormed) their way into my heart, and I didn’t want the book to end, I wanted it to keep going.

One Last Thought: The book was written in first person, from Parker’s perspective, and it was such an imaginative way to do it. We were essentially “seeing” the world through her. We got no descriptions of people or places. We got the texture of the grass under her feet, the sound of someone’s voice, the smell of dinner, even the taste of the air. I absolutely loved it.

Favorite Thing About This Book: I love seeing the realities of life for someone without sight first hand.

First Sentence: My alarm buzzes and I slap it off and tap the speech button at the same time.

Favorite Character: Parker

Least Favorite Character: Isaac

The Rules: 

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. 

Parker Grant doesn’t need 20/20 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. Just ask Scott Kilpatrick, the boy who broke her heart.

When Scott suddenly reappears in her life after being gone for years, Parker knows there’s only one way to react—shun him so hard it hurts. She has enough on her mind already, like trying out for the track team (that’s right, her eyes don’t work but her legs still do), doling 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 three months ago. 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. Maybe, just maybe, some Rules are meant to be broken.

Combining a fiercely engaging voice with true heart, debut author Eric Lindstrom’s Not If I See You First illuminates those blind spots that we all have in life, whether visually impaired or not.