Not If I See You First was a really interesting read. I love that there have been so many YA books lately with characters who have some kind of physical or mental illnesses/disability/challenge. These stories are ones that need to be told and are a needed addition to the existing young adult repertoire.
In this case, Parker Grant is blind and doesn’t let it get in her way one bit. She insists on being treated normally and fends for herself well. She even goes running alone every morning, no guide dog or other form of guidance present. She’s strong and spunky, sometimes to a fault. I really appreciate that Eric Lindstrom is showing that even with her blindness, Parker is just as capable as everyone else. Sometimes she’s rude and stubborn so she’s not a main character you’re going to fall in love with instantly, but her perseverance and growth over the course of the novel makes Parker worth rooting for. (Bonus points for the fact that her blindness doesn’t magically disappear!)
Lindstrom also touches on the other challenges Parker is facing. Her father has just died and her Aunt, Uncle, and cousins have just moved in with Parker as her new guardians. Not If I See You First explores the grief and mourning process that Parker is going through, as well as the adjustment process she’s been forced into with her extended family moving in.
Not If I See You First also has a great exploration of friendship and relationships. Parker’s friendships with Sarah and Molly seem very real and are a positive addition to the story. They provide a great look at both new and old friendships and the challenges teenagers face on a daily basis. The “Office Hours” that Parker and Sarah run add even more uniqueness to their friendship and bring in some intriguing, emotional, and pivotal scenes to the book. Furthermore, the way they work out the strain in their relationship is a great example of a healthy friendship.
Parker’s relationship with Scott is very complicated. They have a long history but Parker cut him out of her life years ago when middle school romance went wrong. Without giving too much away, their relationship was both frustrating and heartwarming. Parker annoyed me with the grudge she was holding, although I could understand why it was her initial reaction. It was so obvious that Scott really cared about Parker even after she’d ignored him for years. The things he does to help her are super sweet. I do wish the ending was longer and explored their relationship more. While I think it’s easy to see what Lindstrom is implying and I definitely understand why it ends with a fuzzy resolution, I think the theme of growth and forgiveness would have been even stronger had the ending been more fleshed out.
Overall, Not If I See You First is an eye opening (no pun intended) look at what it’s like to be blind as a teenager. The exploration of friend and familial relationships, the mourning process, and what it’s like to live with blindness make it worth checking out.
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.