Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom | Book Review

Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom was SUCH an unexpectedly good book. I mean, okay I do not go into books expecting to hate them. If I think I am going to dislike a book, I typically choose not to read it. However, sometimes I read books not entirely knowing what to expect but hoping for a great outcome nonetheless. I devoured Not If I See You First which is Lindstrom’s young adult debut and am still kind of astounded at how much I really enjoyed this book with it’s quick pacing and absolutely unforgettable characters. I’m actually quite excited to see what’s next from Lindstrom.

Not If I See You First is about this girl named Parker who happens to be blind and takes absolutely no shit. She’s the actual best. So, okay, the book opens and Parker is adjusting to her aunt and uncle and two cousins moving in to care for her after the untimely death of her father. She’s about to start school up again and has a new “buddy” this year — Molly who is from a different school from Parker. Anyways, she also finds herself making friends with some new boys and also her mortal enemy – Scott – is back in school with her and well, she’s doing her best to avoid him. Meanwhile, Parker and her friend Sarah dole out advice in the quad for the clueless. OH and also, Parker is convinced into joining the track team because she is crazy fast.

Okay, so there’s a whole lot going on with the plot of Lindstrom’s Not If I See You First which is fine because it’s a snapshot into Parker’s life and how she learns to forgive and to be perhaps a bit more gentle toward others. Her characterization steals the show from the plot though. I think if you are a character sort of person, you’ll love this book. We get the first dose of character when we learn the rules for Parker. You see, she has a set of rules that she is unflinchingly rigid about and abides by. She is very abrasive when you first meet her, but it’s to protect herself from getting hurt. We also see that Parker has been through a lot so she’s tough for a reason. I just loved that take no shit attitude she has, and how she is so unapologetic for it. To me, that’s really cool. I feel like when I was a teenager, I was constantly apologizing for existing and well, I love that Parker doesn’t do that.

Beyond characterization, Lindstrom excels in his portrait of friendships. Like, not going to lie to you guys, this may come off as sexist, but I almost found it hard to swallow that Not If I See You First was written by a man because it nails teenage girl friendships. I mean, first off, the girls are not competing with each other. Second, they totally have each other’s backs and the friendship was such a huge priority with them. I loved that it wasn’t like backstabby or anything. I also loved how Molly and Parker became such good friends in a short amount of time, and how Molly kind of tempers Parker. Also, how Parker realizes that some of the things she does may come across as unkind to her friends and she doesn’t want to be that way. Just, I don’t want to give away the whole book, so I’ll shorten this up and say if you love stories where friendship is a major theme, you’ll love love love Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom.

So, yes, there is some romance in this book. AND SOME KISSING. But also lots of learning moments when it comes to the romances that I think everyone can relate to. I really loved the way that everything plays out and also how it is not quite all wrapped up with a perfect bow. I will tell you that I am definitely team Scott. You’ll see why when you read this book.

Finally, the portrayal of blindness in Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom is one that I am likely not the best to comment on because I am entirely able bodied. However, what I liked was that Parker was a tough as nails girl who happened to be blind. Sure, her blindness is a large aspect of her identity and her life, but it wasn’t all poor me, look at the blind girl. More like, look at Parker thrive, she’s an awesome person because of her honesty and her faithfulness to her friends. She wasn’t like an after school special lesson character  either, meant to inspire us because she isn’t able bodied. Rather, I did examine some of my privilege as someone who has not been disabled and also so did Parker (when she learns one of her friends isn’t white — it’s not like a super huge teaching moment, but adds a new interesting dimension to the book). I just, overall, loved how not preachy or lesson-y this book was.

Other reviews of Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom:

Disability In Kidlit – “I went in skeptical and closed the book feeling quite pleased.

Beauty And The Bookshelf – “definitely a strong debut

Muggle.net – “it’s powerful and thoughtful as well as engaging and relatable

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

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About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

Comments

  1. I’ve definitely been interested in reading this one, but am wary of contemporaries just on a genre-wide basis. But your review is just really even-keeled, and tackled a lot of the questions I would have had about it, so thank you!

  2. Honestly, I’ve not heard a lot about Not If I See You First. But what I have heard has all been amazing! I definitely think that it sounds like the type of contemporary novel I could easily enjoy, and Parker sounds like a most excellent character to be reading about. Definitely happy to see you liked this one; even more reason for me to check it out!

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