Hello internet! My name is Rachel, and this is my first book review for Outside Hook. This week I am really excited to share my thoughts on Eric Lindstrom’s debut novel Not If I See You First.
- Not If I see You First
- Eric Lindstrom
- Little Brown
- Released December 1st 2015
- 4 Stars
Parker Grant is like any other teenager and then some. She’s confident and sarcastic and blunt and fiercely, fiercely determined. She studies, she hangs out with her friends, she loves to run. The only difference between her anyone else is the fact that Parker has been blind since the age of seven. Because of this, Parker lives by a strict set of rules on how others should treat her and her disability, and this way she manages to live in somewhat normalcy. But when Parker’s first childhood friend and first boyfriend Scott Kilpatrick reappears in her life, Parker must reconsider how she views the world, and relive the past and how Scott broke her heart.
“It’s amazing how people can be so blind to what’s good for them and what isn’t, what’s truth and what’s not, or the difference between secrets and things just not yet known.” – Eric Lindstrom, Not If I See You First
I’m quite sure exactly what I expected this book to be like, but let me just begin by saying that Not If I See You First definitely exceeded them. Many YA books tend to fall in a pseudo-philosophical, forcefully introspective trap, getting tangled up in the all the ‘what if’s and ‘how comes’s of the teenage mind. This book however, was surprisingly refreshing. It was insightful and revealing without being preachy or contrived and most importantly, accurately reflected the kind of thoughts a sixteen year old would actually have.
Another thing I was worried about initially going into this book was the who blindness aspect of it, and how that was going to play out. (Although, disclaimer, I am not blind, nor do I have experience with the disability, so my thoughts on this book’s portrayal of blindness and other issues will have inherent flaws.) However, Lindstrom manages to capture tough themes like death and trust and insecurity and disabilities through the lense of high school life and tie it up very nicely.
Lindstrom’s writing is good too. It’s easy to digest, and often times it really does feel like just a conversation between the characters and the reader. Since the book is written from the perspective of Parker, who is both a incredibly vivacious character and blind, it was interesting to see how Lindstrom would write without the aid of visual description (something I am guilty of overusing.)
Now, I’ll be the first to admit, I am absolutely dreadful at writing dialogue. So because of this, I really pay attention to how an author creates dialogue, and I really appreciate a well written conversation. The dialogue in this book is really real. Undoubtedly the best conversations in this book take place between Parker and her friends. Unfortunately, the world of literature, especially YA literature is often plagued with shallow female characters and characterizations, and I don’t mean shallow like, conceited, but rather shallow as in one-dimensional, loosely constructed, lacking depth. Not If I See You First is an exception to the trend, because Lindstrom managed to develop females and female friendships so damn well. Parker’s support system and everyone in it feels so genuine and well developed and relatable, and through it the book delves into making friends and how to be a good friend.
This is a good segway so let’s talk about my favorite part of the book: Parker Grant. Parker is in many ways unlikable. She’s selfish and self centered. She’s arrogant and quick to judge and sometimes blunt to the point of rudeness. And she makes mistakes, frequently, I might add. But all of that is what in my eyes, makes her likable. I like her because she seems so real, and I think throughout this review that realism (not gritty 19th century post-industrial revolution kind, but like the relatable, bitter sweet kind) is one of Lindstrom’s strong suits. It is because of Parker’s many flaws that she comes through as authentic and relatable, and it is through her negative traits that we see her positive ones. Additionally, Parker’s personality is intertwined with her disability, which is one of the reasons why it is so interesting.
In my opinion the whole romance aspect of the book was a little bit more down played than one might typically expect. To me this book is first and foremost a coming of age, and then secondly a romance. Some people may find this frustrating, but as for me the many other aspects of Parker’s life were just as important and interesting.
All in all this book kept me thoroughly engaged even after I had finished reading it. It is the kind of book I can’t help but discuss and I could probably write an entire 10 page paper just analyzing Parker’s character. If you are looking for a story that is insightful and unique, I definitely recommend you pick up Eric Lindstrom’s Not If I See You First. 😊