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Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom

by Catherine Van Bergen (follow)
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Being blind is a hardship. If anyone knows that, it’s fifteen-year-old Parker Grant.

She was only seven years old when a car accident robbed her of her mother and her sight. But she has since found ways of coping with her disability, and has taught others the rules that she has created in order to make life less difficult. Her rules involve basic etiquette, such as telling her when you’re near her and giving her warning before touching her (because it’s unlikely she would know otherwise). Her rules also cover common courtesy, like only offering help if she asks for it (as you would for anybody else), speaking normally (rather than extra loud- she’s blind, not deaf- or extra slow- she’s not brain damaged or stupid) and speaking to her, rather than to someone else on her behalf (as though she’s not even there). For those who follow the rules, life will be a breeze, and for those who don’t, they will soon learn. But Parker has one completely unbreakable rule- Rule Infinity- which states that there are no second chances. If you break this rule and violate her trust, she will never trust you again. She believes that betrayal is unforgivable, especially in her case when she has to rely so heavily on what others tell her is happening around her. As of yet, there is only one person who has broken this rule, and unfortunately for her, it was one of the people closest and most important to her. The incident, which occurred two and a half years ago, has left her scarred, yet she hasn’t backed down on her stance against this betrayal. In fact, she likes to think that she has gotten past it.

That is, of course, until the past comes back to haunt her. With the closure of one of the two schools in the district, all of the students must converge together to attend the same school. Luckily for Parker, she doesn’t have to shift schools, avoiding a logistical nightmare. She does, however, have to put up with new students who are unfamiliar with her or her rules. She also has to deal with the return in her life of the very person who broke Rule Infinity- a fact that she finds slightly difficult to cope with, particularly when she can’t help but miss him in his closeness. Adding to Parker’s drama is her integration within a new family unit. With the unexpected death of her father only three months before, Parker’s aunt, uncle and two cousins have moved seventeen-hundred-and-forty-six miles to live with her in her childhood home. This means she no longer has as much time to herself and is forced to change some of her habits to suit everyone else.

With all of these changes, Parker finds herself having to adapt to a new life. While she does manage to keep some things routine, such as her much-loved early morning runs and her close friendships, she can’t help but feel that things are starting to get out of her control. She also discovers that she might be blind to more than she can physically see…

When you can’t see who or what is in front of you, and have to rely on counting steps, using a cane or asking other people to help you navigate unfamiliar terrain, it must get downright frustrating. It would be even more difficult not being able to see facial expressions and see the everyday little nuances that most of us take for granted. In this debut novel, Eric Lindstrom creates a believable character who must deal with these problems on a daily basis, but who perseveres with wit, charm and sass. The character of Parker is strong- determined to be independent, despite her disability. She isn’t afraid to say what she thinks and even comes across as a bitch to some, who don’t understand that she is also slightly less confident than she makes herself out to be. Her best friend Sarah, her old mate Faith and her new guide/buddy Molly are also fantastic characters who compliment Parker’s demeanour and add spark to the relationships she has. It is easy to believe that these are real teenage girls making do with the circumstances they have been dealt.

In addition to the realistic portrayal of the characters, some of the designs within this book also make reference to Parker’s blindness. Chapter beginnings in most books have a larger capital letter at the beginning of the text, and in this novel, the braille equivalent is also noted underneath it. The braille letters for the title are also indented on the cover of the book and at the end of the author acknowledgments, there is a section written all in braille (although obviously not raised as it is meant to be read). These little accents help to make the book more authentic, and lend credence to the fact that the author is more than 100% involved in the portrayal of his main character and the life that she leads.

Rating: 4.5/5
Published: January 2016

#Young Adult
#Debut novel
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