*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Title: Not If I See You First
Author: Eric Lindstrom
Publication Date: December 1, 2015
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
Parker Grant isn’t your average teenager. Blinded by a tragic car accident as a child, she has adapted to a world where she remains constantly in darkness. She doesn’t let her lack of sight stop her from anything. Parker is an awesome teen who’s an all-star runner, she’s got quick wit and sarcasm, and she’s not afraid to speak her mind. Her story is about recovery and finding inner strength. Her own path is one of self-discovery as Parker learns that she’s not immune to not realizing her own actions and their effects on others. I thought that her journey was a great story of realization, understanding, and forgiveness.
What I liked best about this story was that although romance plays a part, it’s not the focal point of the story. This is a book about relationships, not only romantic, but also with friends and family. Parker learns to listen to others and to see the part that she plays in others’ lives. I think that we can cut Parker a little slack because she is recovering from the recent death of her father so for her to be super aware of others all the time is not to be expected. Of course she’s going to be focussed mostly on her own grief, recovery, and new life. But I think we do see her emerge from this darkness into a more mature, self-aware young woman by the end of the book. Parker does try to get romantically involved, but she ultimately decides that the boy isn’t for her. There’s a secondary love interest, but I loved the way Lindstrom left their relationship ambiguously open at the end. While it’s implied these two characters are sweet on each other, they take a more “friends first” route instead, which I found incredibly respectable and alluring even. If there were to be a companion to this novel, I’d be very much interested in reading more.
My main criticism about Not If I See You First is that I found that Parker was sometimes too adult. Her manner of speaking was often not believable for a girl in her mid-teens. Her insights are not the most well-constructed…or perhaps well-thought out to match up with a girl of her age. She had incredibly adult insights on some occasions and her actions too were at a level higher than her own maturity. This disparity made her a bit unbelievable as a character, but I would say this is more of a minor trait. As a female character in a young adult novel, I think as a whole, she’s pretty great.