Dipping my feet into the ocean of YA contemporary, I read Not If I see You First by Eric Lindstrom, qualified as a diverse book. It made my heart flutter a lot, but thankfully didn’t make me cry – which is a first.
The story centres on Parker Grant who is blind and navigates high school and personal life with a set of tough rules for herself and especially others. Her past catches up to her in the form of Scott, a former friend and with whom she had a brief romance that ended their connection severely. She avoids him but soon finds out that maybe she jumped to conclusions and maybe she doesn’t know herself. Cue: self-evaluation and growing up time.
Not If I See You First carries such a strong voice, balancing showing and telling (it’s in first person). Parker made me laugh so hard I had tears. The book also balances the importance of her friendships and romantic relationships – ex-friends/flames are welcome too. Boyfriends don’t fill up the protagonist’s time and Parker isn’t the type to ditch her friends once she meets a guy, thank god.
Romance also doesn’t define her and definitely isn’t the only thing she pursues to be normal. In fact, she just doesn’t want to be hindered by her blindness. You can do anything and be anything regardless of your disability.
There’s little description of the characters and their surroundings, putting us into a blind person’s shoes. Not only does it test our senses, it make us rely on personality and voice, be cautious of their intentions, and it allows us to imagine what they’re physically like. For example, I found out I was wrong about Molly when the character described her looks. It made me think about how wired my mind is regarding race. It brings up the whole default topic.
Lastly, let’s take a moment to appreciate the cover with braille and the last page is in braille (signed off by Parker). I haven’t figure out what it says yet, but I will. It would be great if the book has a braille edition for those who are blind.
I recommend Not If I See You First if you’re into happy endings, feel good stories with a touch of angst, characters fighting obstacles, or characters knowing their worth and only to be torn down because of their own faults but learn from their mistakes.
Rating: 4/5 stars