Not If I See You First by Eric Windstrom, was sent to me for review by Amazon Vine review programme in exchange for my honest opinion.
I was unsure at first as to whether I would like this. The synopsis made it sound rather like Marcus Sedgwick’s ‘She Is Not Invisible’ which is an excellent YA/Teen book with a blind protagonist that I reviewed here on Making them Readers some time ago. I hate books that are rushed out in the wake of a success story, like the slew of feel good novels that followed on the back of the book Wonder by R. J. Palacio. Some of them are good, many of them are bad, but all of them smack of being a cash cow rather than a book published on its own merits.
I realise this is unfair, given that some of these authors will have written these books and been trying to get the attention of publishers way before whatever runaway success story somehow makes them desirable, but it is just how it comes across to me as a reader. I like originality and I didn’t think I was going to get it here.
Thankfully I was wrong. Not if I See You First, does have a blind protagonist, Parker, but she is nothing like the protagonist of She Is Not Invisible, and the story is also different. If anything, this is more like a traditional teen romance plot. Boy and girl meet and fall in love, bad luck/misunderstanding befalls them, they split and then something occurs to make them reunite for better or worse.
This is, in a nutshell, what this story is about. It is however, so much more than that. Parker is a fantastic heroine. She’s strong, independent, angry and at times really hard to like. She’s damaged and complicated and as well as having to deal with the usual traumas of being a teenager, she is also dealing with her recent orphan status and the fact that she is blind. It is not easy being Parker, and she makes sure everyone around her knows it.
She’s really well drawn and I began to love her as I read further into the book. I like the fact that the love story angle is just one of many narratives going on here, and it doesn’t always take precedence. There is a sub plot about Parker’s trying out for the school running team which I thought was fantastic and really well written. I also liked the dynamics between her friendship groups and the depictions of how she managed within a school and wider urban environment.
This is clever and lively and really interesting to read. I found myself drawn into the whole story and the characters becoming real for me very quickly. I wanted to know more about all of them, even the minor characters and I liked the fact the author took the time to make them well rounded, interesting people and not just foils for Parker.
A great story for girls aged 12 and up.