Written by: Louise Ho
From the cover to its writing, the intriguing book Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom takes a spin on how we read and see people, both figuratively and literally. This contemporary young adult novel takes place within the narrative of Parker Grant, who has certain standards for people who interact with her. If anyone goes against her rules, it’s a major faux pas for them in her books.
Parker is blind, and from this perspective we get to experience a whole other side to the term “reading and understanding people.” Shaken up by her father’s death, and still hurting from events that happened years ago, Parker eventually learns that she must open up and reach out to people without jumping to conclusions about them.
Typically, the novels I’ve read involve a character that can see, which makes the concept of reading a story that’s from a blind narrator’s perspective very interesting. It presents a whole new way of encountering people, and adds the potential difficulties a person living with a disability may face to the difficulties of being a teenager. I think this is done well in Not If I See You First, despite the fact that Lindstrom is neither blind or a teenager.
The story feels realistic, and I couldn’t put the book down; the concept of a blind narrator itself is so good because of how rare it is in YA. It’s a bit longer than typical YA novels that I’ve read, but it’s one that doesn’t become uninteresting, as the story uses an engaging plot, where at every turn Parker must face a new challenge. There are some scenes, like in most YA novels, that are cliché, but certain events tie together so well that the cliché moments are forgivable.
If there’s anything you should take away from this book, it’s that Lindstrom made Parker so darn real. Her realness makes her character far more relatable, and not out of reach like those Mary-Jane and -Sue types. Overall, I would give this book a four out of five.