Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom (proof) - 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.
Not If I See You First illuminates those blind spots that we all have in life, whether visually impaired or not. From Goodreads.
I've had Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom on my TBR pile for quite a while, always seeing it and really wanting to read it, but never actually getting round to it. Now I've finally read, I wish I hadn't waited so long! This book is incredible!
Despite what the summary above says, this isn't a romance; sure, a large chunk of the story focuses on Scott and the past, and what Parker is now learning the truth about, but this side of things isn't like you may expect based on other YA romances you may have read, and I loved this book for it! No spoilers, but it's different, and I liked that.
And although there is a focus on Parker and Scott's past, that's not the only focus. Not If I See You First is mostly about Parker growing as a person. She's completely wonderful as a character, because she's so sassy and feisty, and really funny. Her voice is so distinct and brilliant, she felt like a real person. Her father died three months before the book started, and her Aunt Celia and her family now live with her. However, her aunt is not her father, and they're both having to learn to live with each other. There are certain things Celia won't allow her to do, like help with the food, because that would mean using knives, and she doesn't think it's wise for a blind person to use knives. Or they argue about Parker going to buy some trainers, because how is she going to get to the store, and how will she know if she's not over charged, and so on, but Parker has been blind for ten years, and she has mapped out the mall in a number of steps and turns, and she knows how to seek help from staff, and how to make sure she isn't over charged. It's a bit like tug of war trying to live normally like she used to with her father around, but her aunt is still learning what Parker is capable of, and you can understand her not wanting to Parker to be in a dangerous situation, or in a position to be taken advantage of - she just needs to learn to listen more.
And all the while, with Scott now at her school, and her avoiding and blanking him at all costs, and living with her aunt's family, she is still coming to terms with her father's death. There is a question hanging over how he died, and things have surfaced that she didn't know, with no-way of getting an explanation, because her father is dead. She sees not crying over his death as a sign of strength, and rewards herself with gold stars for every day she doesn't. There are also some friend issues, when she realises her best friend, Sarah, hasn't been talking to her about something important, and starts to feel like maybe their friendship isn't as strong as she thought, maybe Sarah doesn't see Parker how she sees Sarah. It's all a lot to deal with all at once, but you'd be surprised how light this book is. Of course it has it's heavy moments, but overall, Not If I See You First is a really enjoyable, fun read, because Parker is so funny and sparky.
What was wonderful about Not If I See You First was seeing how a blind person lives. Parker has been blind since she was seven years old, after her mother crashed the car, killing her and leaving Parker without her sight. Parker is now a junior at high school, she's been blind for ten years now, and she knows how to navigate life as a blind person. She does get help - she has a buddy, Molly, who is another student taking all the same classes as Parker, and helps her when it comes to what the teacher is writing on the board, and with homework after school, and she is taken to and from school - but she doesn't need as much help as everyone else seems to think. She can navigate the school, she can walk down stairs, Parker even runs every morning before school at an enclosed field. She's knows what she's doing. But the way people treat her, sometimes, is so insulting. Talking about her in hearing range, thinking she can't hear because she can't see (because that makes so much sense), for example. Even a conversation that's full of concern for her is out of order, because she can hear you! She just wants to be treated the same as everyone else.
But she is blind, and being blind, there are some things she can't avoid. So she has the Rules for how people should behave in relation to her. Always make your presence known, or it feels like being spied on. But make your presence known before getting too close, or it feels like being sneaked up on. Don't touch her, in any way, without either permission first, or a nudge to warn her a hug, for example, is coming. Can you imagine not knowing you're going to be touched, and then suddenly you are, how freaky that would be? Those of us who can see can step out of the way or hold up a hand to stop unwanted contact. If a blind person doesn't know it's coming, they can't stop it. It's completely disrespectful, and yet something that had never occurred to me before. I learnt a lot reading this book, both in regards to the respectful way to behave around her, and in the help she doesn't need that we who can see might automatically think she does. Not If I See You First is a book that will make you very much aware of your privilege as someone who can see, and it's wonderful.
Not If I See You First is another book that I simply enjoyed reading for the sake of reading, and it's brilliant to get that enjoyment back. I need to mention the incredible cover; you see those dots in the image above? That's actual braille - the title is printed, but there's also a message in braille - something that you can work out by using the letter characters here - of a phrase that comes up a few times in the book, and that's just a wonderful, beautiful touch! There's alos a braille message at the end of the book from Parker, but I'm still struggling to work that one out, but it's still so cool! A really incredible book, and I am so looking forward to reading everything else Lindstrom writes in the future!
Thank you to HarperCollins Children's Books for the proof.
Published: 31st December 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
Eric Lindstrom's Website