I must admit that what drew me to Eric Lindstrom's Not If I See You First was the cover art - it's bright and colorful, and incorporates Braille lettering, and I haven't read very many YA books with characters who are blind. The narrator of Lindstrom's novel is Parker Grant, a sixteen-year-old whose world has been turned upside down twice: the first time was the car accident that killed her mother and left Parker blind, and the second was her father's recent death, which may or may not have been an intentional overdose of prescription pills. On top of having to deal with losing her dad and having to adjust to her aunt's family moving into her home, Parker's having to cope with hundreds of new kids at her high school. Two schools have combined, and the new kids don't really know how to deal with Parker - the colorful scarves she wears as blindfolds, the sarcastic-slogan buttons covering her vest, or her blunt way of dealing with people she doesn't know well. It doesn't help that one of those new kids is Scott, the same guy who totally betrayed her trust in middle school by breaking her first rule: never take advantage of her blindness (and rule number infinity is NO second chances). Parker's hobbies are running (secretly), and giving advice in the school courtyard with her best friend Sarah, Lucy-from-Peanuts style. No matter how much Parker keeps running, though, she can't run from the feelings she still has for Scott, or from the grief she hasn't really dealt with yet.
Not If I See You First is Lindstrom's first novel, and it's a great addition to the lineup of contemporary Young Adult literature. It took me a few chapters to realize one thing that makes the book's narration very different from most other YA books: telling her story in the first person, Parker being blind means there is no long description of what any of the characters look like, and that Parker's assessments of the people around her are completely based on their personalities and behavior. It was refreshing. Parker's voice is very clear - she's a girl who is tough because she has to be, who doesn't take crap because she can't afford to, to the extent that even her friends have forgotten how vulnerable she really is. She's so real that I forgot the author was male until I looked back at the cover. The other characters - from Sarah and Scott to Parker's student aide Molly and bristly cousin Sheila - are all well-developed and multi-dimensional, which isn't always the case in YA. I'm really looking forward to seeing what Eric Lindstrom comes up with next!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received an ARC of this book free from the publisher through Netgalley program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”