Thursday, September 8, 2016

Not if I See You First, by Eric Lindstrom

Last hike of the season:

September has arrived, and I have a ton of reviews to catch up on, since I was so lazy all summer. I'm always most excited about the book I just finished, so I shall begin with the book that kept me up past midnight last night. Not If I See You First is another contemporary realistic novel, which I've said in the past is not my favourite genre, but if people keep writing them like this I shall have to eat my words!

Parker is a high school student who has been blind since the accident that took her mother's life, and her father recently passed away, possibly to suicide. It sounds terribly depressing, but it's not. Parker is coping! She is coping with a vengeance, and woe to anyone who gets in her way. She has her friends, and her Rules, and the field she runs in early in the morning when no one can see a blind girl running. She is a fascinating, strong, flawed, funny character with a great voice. I loved her. I also loved every other character in the novel.

Although Not If I See You First is quite different in plot and theme from Exit, Pursued by a Bear , it squeezed my heart in just the same way. Mostly because it's got similar fiercely awesome friendships. Sarah and Molly and Faith were all amazing in different ways, and it was wonderful to see Parker trusting them and them not taking crap from Parker. The guys were also great, and Parker's interactions with them were so true to life in all the messy ways kids interact with each other that I wanted to cheer. (I'm not going to reveal the one guy's name, but kyun! (that's the Japanese sound effect for "momentary tightening of the chest due to powerful feelings")(useful word!)) Ahem.

It's hard to believe this is a debut novel, because the more I think of it the more impressed I am by how well-crafted it is: the way the character and plot arcs come together, the brilliant dramatic moments, the perfect balance between humour and tear-fest (mostly happy tear-fest, just so you know)(I mean, sad, but happy, 'cause that's what life is like, right?) Wonderful opening and closing scenes—it should be taught in a class about how to structure a novel.

It's a novel about being blind—about the ways in which we are all blind because we just can't see what's right in front of us. Parker is so very, very wrong about some significant things, and her learning process is painful and brilliantly satisfying.

I'm thinking something vinegar-y would work as a food metaphor—sharp and sour and refreshing. The sunomono salad my favourite sushi restaurant makes: thin cold rice noodles in a lemony rice vinegar broth/dressing (hard to describe, but it's really delicious); with shrimp.


  1. Well, I have a copy of Exit, Pursued by a Bear on my coffee table that arrived recently, and I have just ordered a copy of this book. Now mind you, I have a HUGE TBR pile already, but your reviews are so compelling that I have to read these books! I am really looking forward to finding the time. Thanks for these reviews and recommendations.

    1. Now I'm feeling the weight of having added to your TBR pile! But these books are really awesome.

      And isn't the cover of Exit, Pursued by a Bear beautiful? I have it as an ebook so I don't get the full effect; it's one I'd like to have a physical copy of.