YA Book Reviews

Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom

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.

I absolutely loved this book from beginning to end. I’m gonna need a little bit to get past my initial !!!! reaction, but this is definitely one of my favorite books this year and possibly all-time; I mean, not just any book makes me actively cry, and this one definitely did. Not kidding: I actually sat on my floor and cried into this book. 

Best parts: I loved all of the characters so much, the way friendships trumped the romantic aspect, just how real everybody was, and how Parker’s blindness was there but not An Issue or really the biggest source of conflict in the book. Parker grew so much over the short time span of the book in a really honest and accurate way, and I just loved being inside her head and seeing (ha-ha) how everything came together in the end. AND it was an open-ended ending as well, which surprised me but also gave me such a warm feeling in my heart. I’ve heard a lot of people say they didn’t like this book because she is really blunt and doesn’t think about other people’s feelings a lot of the time, or there are things she doesn’t know about her best friend that she should have, etc. Both of these issues are tackled in the book. The reason this book made me cry was because of how Parker and Sarah patched up a serious riff in their friendship, winning my heart of hearts for female friendships everywhere. In addition, there was honestly very little drama in the book, and what was there was explored and dealt with in a bold and truthful way. Long story short: I found very little I disliked about this book.

The ONLY things I didn’t like were how Jason developed and the petty, anti-climactic peace out he got. He started off pretty cool, but went really downhill. Unfortunately this is still a really realistic thing, as anyone with a chronic illness knows…some people you think are amazing and wonderful turn out to be meh after they experience the full frontal look at what being disabled and/or chronically ill means, because you’re too “high maintenance” for them. Jason is one of those people. Scott is a bit better on that end, but his whole thing was also anticlimactic. Super great for people who are not into romantic subplots! I am a romantic at heart, so I admit to sighing a lot during their whole exchange, but I still adored everything else.

I highly recommend this book for multiple reasons: number one, it provides an excellent introduction into how to work with literally anyone with a disability, not just blindness. Parker’s List of Rules can be applied outside of this book, and should be common knowledge in my opinion. Secondly, this is another one of those books that feels more realistic than any other YA I’ve read (I believe the other book I mentioned this with was The Rest of Us Just Live Here, although that was definitely more paranormal/fantasy than realistic/contemporary.) There is something so moving about meeting characters that could easily jump out of the page and become some of your best friends. That’s how I felt when reading this, and I’m going to cherish that feeling for a long time after I’ve finished. Bonus points: the title is in Braille. Like you can feel the bumps spelling out “Not If I See You First,” and to me, that is one of the most poignant and meaningful things Eric Lindstrom could have done. I hope the audiobook is just as good. ❤

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