Oh Goodwill, you’re so good to me.
So, I found this gem on one of the many racks of books at Goodwill and after quickly reading the summary on the back of the advanced paperback copy of Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom I knew I had to read it.
I finished this book a while back (as in about five months ago), but since then it has remained there, at the back of my mind, constantly resurfacing. This is one of those reads that you can never forget.
A Blind Protagonist
Not If I See You First tells the story of highschooler Parker Grant who became blind at the age of seven. Her life since then has take many “unseen” turns. Sorry, too early for puns? Anyway, a couple pages into this book it’s revealed that Parker’s father has passed away–yeah I know a dead parent is a very overused book trope, but it makes sense so just let it be, accept it… And, like every other good YA novel, Not If I See You First features the fan favorite: a love triangle. First, Parker meets smooth talker Jason and they quickly set up a date (fyi I personally am #teamJason). Shortly after, Parker’s betraying eighth grade ex-boyfriend, Scott, makes a comeback in Parker’s life and old feelings begin to resurface. Oooooo what will happen? Who will she choose???
Aside from the love triangle, this book really centers itself around Parker and how she deals with her unfortunate reality.
Overall, Not If I See You First tells the story about a young girl who has to overcome an unusual obstacle while dealing with very usual teenage things.
But Is It Good?
In an nutshell, this book is really, really good.
Parker Grant is the perfect mix of sass, anger, and self confidence–with just the right amount of bratty-teenager. The thing to know about Parker is that she is very closed off– and justifiably so–to many people. Maybe it’s because of Scott’s ultimate betrayal or because her father passed or maybe because she’s, ya know, blind? Her irritability and self assurance may come off as anger or arrogance, but in truth it’s her way of keeping herself detached and protected from getting hurt.
Parker’s character is what makes the story; I love “seeing” things from her perspective (sorry, still too early for puns?). She is essentially the everyday teenage girl, she runs daily, has a very active social life, and has experienced a very traumatic experience. And all of this eventually builds up to the summit of the book–which in my opinion was the best part. Where this girl comes up to Parker and calls her very mean (and explicit) names–I won’t lie I did enjoy it. I could just imagine Parker sitting there listening to this crazy girl tell her off, with a scarf tied around her eyes… Wish these things actually happened in real life. My high school years were never that entertaining.
Best Inner Monologue, Ever.
The characters are also so witty! Her best friend Sarah (who’s my favorite character by the by) says the most absurd and hilarious things.
And then there’s Parker of course whose inner monologue is a carbon copy of my own–weird! It’s almost like Mr. Lindstrom took my thoughts and put them on paper. Honestly, sometimes it got so weird I had to put the book down, and step away for a bit. Parker has this passive-agressive, pessimistic, non-stop thought process that almost anyone (I’m sure of it) can relate to.
“Parker’s blindness doesn’t really stop her from doing anything; it just makes her do things differently than she would if she could see.” -Eric Lindstrom, from his interview with Kody Keplinger
I think anyone looking to spice up their “read” pile should give this book a try. It’s totally different from many YA novels, yet exactly the same… but it’s a chance to live the life of a girl who literally can’t see two feet in front of her.
This book did not just give me another story to read, but also a different perspective to my everyday life. Every now and again I’ll catch myself thinking: Hmmm I wonder how Parker would handle this… or What if I couldn’t see what my friends and family looked like…. Small thoughts like those pass through my mind every once in a while, but without this book they never would exist in the first place.
Not If I See You First was published December 1st of 2015, and is 320 pages long. It’s available in hardback and paperback. You can get your copy almost anywhere books are sold. Check out your local bookstore!
Have a peek at the author.
And please check out this interview with Eric Lindstrom, with Kody Keplinger!