Author: Rachel DeWoskin
Source: Penguin Canada on Goodreads First Reads (A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.)
Check this book out on Goodreads.
When your life as you know it is taken from you, how do you go on?
Imagine this: You are fourteen, watching the fireworks at a 4th of July party, when a rocket backfires into the crowd and strikes your eyes, leaving you blind. In that instant, your life is changed forever. How do you face a future in which all your expectations must be different? You will never see the face of your newborn sister, never learn to drive. Will you ever have a job or fall in love? This is Emma’s story. The drama is in her many small victories as she returns to high school in her hometown and struggles to define herself and make sense of her life, determined not to be dismissed as a PBK – Poor Blind Kid. This heartfelt and heart wrenching story takes you on Emma’s journey and leaves you with a new understanding of the challenges to be faced when life deals a devastating blow. (Source: Goodreads)
Blind is the story of Emma who was in a terrible accident just before she was supposed to start high school that leaves her blinded. The story deals with how she builds her spirits back up and becomes re-mainstreamed while trying to understand the normal high school drama that each of us faces, like best friends, family, dating, and puberty. Her story is paired with the death of a friend who recently committed suicide which forces her to face what has happened to her, and to everyone around her, in times of tragedy.
I feel like I’m the odd one out here, but I really enjoyed this book. It was long, which was a common complaint I read about this book, but I didn’t find it particularly daunting, in fact I read this book in one day very easily without any feelings of stress or annoyance regarding the length. I was reading an ARC, provided by Goodreads, so there’s a possibility that it’s been trimmed down a little, but I find it hard to believe. There wasn’t a lot that could be removed from this book that wouldn’t have a huge effect on the overall story and the journey that Emma faces throughout the book.
There are several plots and subplots in this book. Aside from Emma learning to live her life blind, she also deals with the questions surrounding a recent suicide, learns about dating, deals with her six siblings, and tries to build connections with people new and old. I thought these plots added to the realism of the novel. Removing them wouldn’t really work because this book is so…rounded and inclusive of everything that happens in Emma’s life. The book then becomes not just about a blind girl, but about a teenage girl who just happens to be blind. I thought that was really great.
I did fine DeWoskin’s writing a little repetitive at times. She frequently addresses the same concepts over and over, which is a bit of a poor. That’s an easy fix, and may have been addressed going into the final draft of this book, which was released this week! I found the depth of information in DeWoskin’s book to be really good, she addresses the issue of braille really well, because she studied braille in real life. I think it would be interesting to read this book, paired with perhaps an autobiography of someone who faced a similar accident in their life and has also had to re-mainstream like Emma did to see the extent of DeWoskin’s research.
I also was glad that Emma wasn’t painted as a sob story, or as a poor disabled girl. In fact she is just the opposite. As true as it is that it really, really sucks that she is blind now, it’s also true that she is still very capable of a lot of things. The fact that DeWoskin shows the ways in which people who aren’t sighted can still function very well in a mainstream setting was really fantastic. I also found the book very thought provoking because you don’t often consider what would happen if you lost your sight. Reading Emma’s introspection on this topic was really interesting and thoughtprovoking. I didn’t find this book super emotional, though there are a lot of emotional moments. It wasn’t a tear jerker, which I didn’t mind too much. I found it better than this book made me think than simply made me cry for Emma, or for her family.
My one really big complaint about this book: there were too many love interests. I’m not complaining that Emma isn’t interested in just settling for one guy, she can date all the guys if she wants. I am, however, complaining that it was so impossible to keep up with who these guys were, especially because writing romance doesn’t seem to be a skill DeWoskin possesses much of. Beyond Sebastian, Emma’s friend from her school for the blind, the guys in this book are all just sort of the same to me. There wasn’t really any emotional relationships created with any of the guys from her high school. There was some really beautiful romanced developed early on with Sebastian, but beyond that everything else just felt kind of dull and boring. The fact that she was interested in all these other guys just confused and annoyed me because DeWoskin didn’t give any reasons why, or give the reader any reason to care about them.
I also found this to be the case with her relationship with Claire, the girl who committed suicide. She doesn’t really paint a good picture of just how connected there lives were, though you get little glimpses eventually. For large portions of the book I was confused about why Emma was so obsessed with this girl’s suicide.
As a side note, I’d like to mention that I received this from Penguin Canada who included a nice letter thanking me for entering the contest on Goodreads for this book. I absolutely love getting these little notes and letters from the publishers because it seems so sweet and personal. My copy of My First Book of Japanese Words: An ABC Rhyming Book by Michelle Haney Brown had an adorable, hand written note from Tuttle Publishing included, which I thought was the sweetest thing ever (and is a huge part of why I love Tuttle so much). But anyway, huge thanks to Penguin and Goodreads for this book!
Overall, I found this book enjoyable, thought provoking, and fairly well written. I would recommend it, though I don’t think it’s for everyone I do think it’s worth a try. Personally, I really enjoyed it and found myself really hooked to the storyline, especially in second half of the book. I think it’s worth a read, or a try, though maybe the first 100 pages might not be the most hooky portions of the book.