Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom

I received this book for free from BEA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Not If I See You First by Eric LindstromNot If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom
Published by Poppy on December 1, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
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four-half-stars

The Rules:

Don't deceive me. Ever. Especially using my blindness. Especially in public.

Don't help me unless I ask. Otherwise you're just getting in my way or bothering me.

Don't be weird. Seriously, other than having my eyes closed all the time, I'm just like you only smarter.

Parker Grant doesn't need 20/20 vision to see right through you. That's why she created the Rules: Don't treat her any differently just because she's blind, and never take advantage. There will be no second chances. Just ask Scott Kilpatrick, the boy who broke her heart.

When Scott suddenly reappears in her life after being gone for years, Parker knows there's only one way to react-shun him so hard it hurts. She has enough on her mind already, like trying out for the track team (that's right, her eyes don't work but her legs still do), doling out tough-love advice to her painfully naive classmates, and giving herself gold stars for every day she hasn't cried since her dad's death three months ago. But avoiding her past quickly proves impossible, and the more Parker learns about what really happened--both with Scott, and her dad--the more she starts to question if things are always as they seem. Maybe, just maybe, some Rules are meant to be broken.

The buzz on Not If I See You First has been hard to miss, even disconnected as I’ve been lately from Twitter, Goodreads, and even my own blog. Oddly, I find hype easier to bear when it’s a book I don’t have too many expectations for. Eric Lindstrom is an unknown quality, and, due to surface similarities, I think that being whelmed by Rachel DeWoskin’s Blind subconsciously made me skeptical of Not If I See You First. No one will be shocked to hear that I judge books by their covers. However, Not If I See You First is most definitely not underwhelming or merely whelming; it’s a beautiful contemporary bursting with personality and feeling.

What I love most about Not If I See You First is Parker Grant. And the fact that Parker Grant can be the way she is. Though I’ve read plenty of good “issue” books, I still always suspect them to be like the ones from when I was a teen: sappy and tragic. Also, if someone has a disability or something, they have to be perfect otherwise to up the tragedy level. I’m so glad fiction has moved past this for the most part.

Parker’s awesome, a force to be reckoned with, a big personality, a bitch. She’s as independent as she can possibly be, and she defends every bit of that independence. Impressively, Parker’s also pretty good at asking for help when she needs it. Parker owns every bit of her personality, and she prides herself on speaking the truth, even when it’s harsh and even though it gets her labeled a bitch.

The voice makes it clear what an individual Parker is, even before you learn about how she wears scarves as blindfolds everyday as a statement. Parker’s funny, sarcastic, cynical, and I loved her immediately. Not If I See You First is very much an emotional journey for Parker. She thinks she has everything figured out and realizes that the world is more complicated than she realized, not because she can’t see but because she’s been blind to certain facts.

There is romance in Not If I See You First, and I do think it’s very sweet, but that’s not the essence of the novel. There’s so much more about friendship and family and first impressions. Parker’s actually kind of a Darcy figure (though this is in no way a P&P retelling), in that she very much goes with her first impressions of people and isn’t at all forgiving of those who lose her good opinion. Like Darcy, she learns that she’s been too narrow-minded. To that end, both Scott and Kent are really beautiful examples of her growth.

The female friendships in this book are seriously A+. It’s rare to fins a book where a character has multiple friends, because it can be difficult to achieve in fiction without making things awkward narratively. Parker has a best friend, Sarah, a new friend, Molly, and also popular Faith. She’s not an outcast, but she’s not popular; she’s in the middle and she’s happy there.

Sarah and Parker have a really firm relationship, and there’s no real drama between them. It’s so refreshing to see this. Actually, none of her female friendships involve any of the typical drama. Sarah and Parker do go through a period of stress in their friendship but they talk and work through it in the really healthy manner necessary to long-term friendships. What could have been a big deal wasn’t.

Molly has been assigned to be Parker’s guide throughout the school day. They’ve been linked because they’re in the same classes, but they didn’t have to become friends. Parker, for all her bite, isn’t a mean person, and Molly makes a good first impression, following Parker’s rules and responding with sass to Parker’s jibes. As they grow closer, Molly calls Parker on bullshit, and they’re very much on their way to being very close friends.

Parker’s relationship with her cousin is much more strained. Sheila doesn’t like her much and Parker’s willing to go with that because they don’t have much in common. Sheila actually proves a big part in Parker’s personal journey, but they don’t become best friends. One of the things I like about this book is that things don’t resolve into a neat, traditional fictional bow. Relationships have started to improve, but there’s still work to be done. There’s a lot I’d like to know about what comes next but it’s also beautiful how realistic the ending feels though View Spoiler ».

Not If I See You First is powerful and full of well-realized characters. I also love the way that blindness doesn’t define Parker, though it’s obviously a part of her life.

Favorite Quote:

“Awww,” I interrupt him with my sweet voice. “You figured that out because you just heard someone say it. And I know your name for the very same reason. Douchebag isn’t very nice, though, so I’ll just call you D.B.”

“I’m–”

“Shhh…” I shake my head. “Don’t ruin it.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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One response to “Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom”

  1. Lyn Kaye says:

    I kinda need a bitchy book right now. I’m all on board for this. Also, you just don’t see (oh, that is horrible) books based on sight disabilities.
    Lyn Kaye recently posted…Book Review: The Golden CompassMy Profile

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