Genre: Young Adult
Parker Grant lives by a strict set of rules. Chief among them:
There are NO second chances. Violate my trust and I’ll never trust you again. Betrayal is unforgivable.
Inflexible, sure, but Parker has reason to be wary. When she was seven, her mother was killed in a car crash that left Parker blind. Then last summer, her father passed away. Now her aunt, uncle and cousins have moved into her house to take care of her, so she doesn’t have to start over in a whole new town. That’d be more than enough to break most people, but in a final twist of the knife, Parker’s first love—the boy who betrayed her in THE MOST UNFORGIVABLE WAY has just transferred to her high school.
Fortunately, she has her best friends, a boy who doesn’t make a thing of her blindness, a passion for running and a wall of stars to keep her sane. For now.
Not If I See You First is a funny and heartfelt coming-of-age story that shows that first impressions can be misleading, and trust is just as important as resilience.
I’ve got to be honest: it took me a while to tear my oglers away from the cover before I could start reading. Seriously, scroll up and look at that cover in all its candy-coloured gorgeousness. For the curious, the artwork is by one Liz Casal. The dots are, you guessed it, Braille and there’s a secret message there for those who take the time to decode it. Each chapter highlights the first letter in Braille too. In fact, the overall design of this book is beautifully done.
But what of the story? Parker is a tough little nut who doesn’t pull any verbal punches. She’s smart, with a cutting sense of humour, but she’s also vulnerable and uses her wit as a defence mechanism. I liked that she doesn’t tolerate people feeling sorry for her, even if it means she tends to keep people at arm’s length.
I’ll admit that, going in, I thought using a blind narrator might be gimmicky. Not so. Lindstrom goes to considerable effort to show the reader what life is like for a blind teenager. Parker’s narrative is punctuated with details about how she manages her blindness: having friends tell her when they approach or leave so she knows who’s around, freaking out when someone touches her because she can’t see it coming, using Braille tags on her clothes so she knows what each item is, having a buddy (Mandy) who sits next to her in class to read her the teacher’s notes from the board, and countless more. There’s a current push in YA to explore more diverse narratives and, through Parker, Lindstrom invites his readers to experience high school from a perspective most of us probably haven’t considered.
The story, however, is YA-by-numbers. Not bad, just predictable. Blindness aside, Parker is your standard-issue smart ‘n’ sassy protag. with baggage to work through and a Special Talent (running) which helps her discover her inner strength. She’s also got her clique of quirky friends whom she inevitably alienates in the lead up to the major crisis and has to Learn A Life Lesson before she can get them back. And there’s the boy who seems so right, but is really so wrong, and the other boy she thought was an asshat but might just turn out to be her Darcy.
The dialogue is funny, but doesn’t sparkle, and the characters (with the exception of Parker) are sympathetic and complex enough, though not particularly memorable. In short, it’s a story that ticks all the boxes—a solid three-star read. I found it a tad vanilla, but if you’re new to the contemporary YA genre and want to get a feel for it, Not If I See You First would be a great place to start.
Thank you to HarperCollins for providing a copy of Not If I See You First in exchange for an honest review.
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