Book Review: Not If I See You First – Eric Lindstrom

Not-If-I-See-You-First-Eric-Lindstorm-Book-Review-She-Latitude

Title: Not If I See You First (2015)
Author: Eric Lindstrom
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Extent: 310 pages
Release Date: December 1, 2015
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Goodreads Description

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.

Review

The first thing you need to know about Parker Grant is that she is tough. She takes no shit from anyone, she thinks being called a bitch is a compliment, and she’s… well, how to put it? Occasionally, needlessly thoughtless to the point of being mean. This probably makes her an unlikeable protagonist to many, but to me, her no-bullshit act was quite refreshing—albeit a little frustrating, at times.

I found the blurb to be generally misleading. More than the implied romance, Not If I See You First was more about Parker’s own coming-of-age—her own learning to be vulnerable, to not put up such a strong front, to let people in. She started the book as an unlikeable character: somewhat judgmental, occasionally selfish, often unnecessarily harsh.

“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.”

Over the course of the book, though, Parker grew. I still don’t really care to be her friend at the end of the book, but I appreciate how much she had developed. If before she would bite off people’s heads if they treat her ‘differently’, she’s a bit more understanding now. If before she didn’t shy away from expressing her opinions even when it wasn’t the time and place, she has a bit more tact now. If before she wrote people off at first mistake, she’s more open to second chances now.

This romance unfortunately didn’t blow me out of the water. Parker and her love interest Scott sometimes acted childishly, which made room for a little bit more back-and-forth than would have been necessary. I’m also not particularly fond of big, sweeping love declarations as well, especially not at the age Parker and Scott are, although another person could argue that it’s more realistic this way. 😛

Not If I See You First deals with many important things. It explores disability and shows us how Parker lives in her day-to-day life, and how she herself deals with it (occasionally as a shield).  It explores friendships, and how sometimes you can find it in the most unexpected of places. It explores forgiveness, first impressions and second chances:

“People are full of things you don’t know but that doesn’t mean they’re secrets; you just don’t know everything yet.” He lets go. “And that’s good, otherwise, you’d have no reason to talk anymore.”

Lindstrom’s writing is really easy to get into, so overall Not If You See Me First was a fast read for me. Plot-wise not much really happened, but the development of particular characters and relationships was enough to make this book generally enjoyable. I’d recommend it. 🙂

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22 thoughts on “Book Review: Not If I See You First – Eric Lindstrom

  1. I really like the fact that this book has a blind main protagonist, I feel like that’s very rare in books, and it’s quite refreshing. Plus, I’d be interested to read about how she sees the world with this particular disability. Plus, you know me, I love stories with a good character development, so I might try this one out of curiosity, when I get the time. Seeing that it didn’t blow you away that much doesn’t make me in too much of a hurry to get it 🙂

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    • Yeah, definitely quite rare! I don’t think I can name another book with a blind protagonist, haha.

      Anyway, I think you would like this book — it’s quite light-hearted but also full of heart, and it was a very easy read. I hope you enjoy it quite a bit when you get to it eventually. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love that last book. It makes me happy that there are more YA books appearing now featuring characters with disabilities. I’m always a little wary of them, because it makes me uncomfortable when people with disabilities are intended only to signify something, or under imagined symbols of tragedy, but I think increasingly writers are doing a better job.

    My brother is autistic, so I take all this stuff way more personally than I have any authority to really, haha.

    It’s like any marginalised group though – it’s really important for them to have representations of themselves in what they consume. I’ve read a couple really great YAs concerning disabled characters in the past couple years. Hopefully the trend will continue!

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    • It makes me happy too! Yeah, there’s definitely a fine balance between a story about a disability told as it is versus a story where the disability is the be all and end all of everything. I think this book was quite good in that sense, because I never felt like the disability was the only thing that characterised our protagonist – she was three-dimensional that way. 😛

      Would you be able to recommend other YAs with disabled characters? I’ve read a couple with deaf protagonists but I don’t think I’ve read much else. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • She Is Not Invisible, by Marcus Sedgwick, is awesome. It’s another story with a blind protagonist. Her father goes missing so she and her younger brother run away to go looking for him. It is such a great read. The fact that she’s blind is really just incidental, which is what I loved most about it.

        This one doesn’t have a disabled protagonist, but How To Say I Love You Out Loud, by Karole Cozzo is awesome. Before writing, she spent most of her career working with disabled kids and their families, and it shows. It’s from the perspective of a girl who’s brother has autism. I hadn’t ever really read any books that looked at siblings who have caring responsibilities before, and it was so awesome to see some of my own experience reflected for honestly the first time ever. I wish the book had come out when I was a kid.

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        • Ooh, thank you so much for the recommendations, I’ll definitely be checking them out! I’m glad you found that How to Say I Love You Out Loud, especially, reflects your own experience – there’s something to be said about books that you can actually relate to on a personal level. Authors who do a lot of research and bring in their own experiences usually have more ‘authentic’ voices, I find. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I had pretty much exactly the same thoughts on this book! I didn’t like Parker at first because I don’t generally get along with people who are tactless and she’s very much that! But she did change towards the end of the book and I liked that. I also agree that not much happened but the author’s writing style made this a fast read! Great review! 🙂

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    • Glad to hear that! Yeah, I honestly didn’t like her at first – I mean, it’s OK to want to be tough and all but I think she definitely crossed the line to rude and mean sometimes. 😛

      Thanks for your comment! ❤

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  4. I hadn’t heard of this book before–and though I don’t think I’ll love it (your critique is great!), I’ll add it to my TBR anyway; I’m ashamed to say I haven’t read about a blind protagonist before, and that needs to be rectified. 🙂

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  5. Great review! I would personally not be able to handle a book where the character’s personality is so tough, but I think that’s necessary when blind to not appear vulnerable. I love how the protagonist is unique in her disability.

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    • I’m not sure if it’s ~objectively~ necessary, but that was definitely one of Parker’s defining characteristics — she was blind, and she dealt with it by being ultra-tough. It is quite unique a book, though.

      Thanks for your comment! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Great review Reg!
    See I’m kind of intruged by the fact that Parker is a tough character, taking no bullshit, just because it’s something kind of refreshing to see in a character in a YA book. This is the one where you mentioned that the romance was a little less developed than you would have liked isn’t it? Maybe it would been better if the author focused on Parker’s coming of age rather than the romance.
    Still it sounds like an interesting book, and I’m curious to see how Parker’s disability is handled in the story, I’m definitely going to pick up this book one day 😀

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    • Thanks Beth! Yeah, it’s this book. I do think that it’d be better for it to be a coming-of-age book and just that – not every protagonist needs a romance, and in my experience, MANY people start dating after high school. Anyway, I do like tough protagonists as well but I think Parker sometimes crosses the line a little bit. It is part of her ‘flaw’, though. 😛

      Hope you enjoy this book when you pick it up!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I received this novel in my Uppercase subscription box, and I was quite intrigued by the different point of view of a disabled main character. I don’t think I’ll LOVE it, but I think it’ll be worth the read. I haven’t seen many reviews about NIISYF, but from what I have read, most people give it around 3-3.5 stars…So, I guess we’ll just have to see.. xD

    Wonderful review, as always, Reg! 🙂

    -Jess @jbelkbooks

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  8. I actually enjoy how the cover is conceived. I brush my hand over it most times I come across it in stores.

    In terms of the content, I actually do enjoy it when main characters are a bit of an asshole? I don’t know. I feel like when I come across opinions actively shaming a hero because they’re crude or a prick or just simply elitist/holier-than-thou even if it may make sense given their environment, it raises my eyebrows as to why everyone (re protagonists) just has to be so inherently “good” and vanilla all day.

    That being said, though I did want to read this for the thematic discussions I’m sure this story brings to light, I’ve probably lost all desire since it’s been so long.

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