Not If I See You First: Review

December 3, 2015 2015, 3.5 star books, contemporary, Kim 13 ★★★½

Not If I See You First: ReviewNot If I See You First Published by Poppy on December 1, 2015
Genres: contemporary
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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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.

This is the sort of book where it would have received a higher rating if this was my sort of book. It’s a quality book. It’s very well written and well paced, the characters are fully fleshed out, believable, and flawed, and there are lessons to be learned and hearts to be broken and mended. It’s just not really a Kim book, and I didn’t really know that going into it. I can like contemporaries when they’re romantic and mostly cutesy (with some gravity thrown in for balance). I am saying this so you know to take my rating with a grain of salt. I think usual fans of contemporaries will really like this one!

In actuality, this is a lot different than I thought it would be. I thought this was going to be a book about broken hearts and second chances and slowly learning to come back together. And it is, sort of. But it’s not really about that. So what is this book about then? It’s about growing up. It’s about realizing when you’re wrong, owning your flaws, and making good on your mistakes.

Parker is a no-nonsense, often unpleasant character. Blunt to the extreme, Parker passes her opinions around with little regard to how they affect others. Her internal narrative is often harsh, and her opinions of her peers and others around her are both uncharitable and unforgiving. Parker is an “unlikeable female character” but not in the bad way. Not in the way that many mean when they use that phrase. You can be a person who isn’t particularly nice, and still not be a bad person. Parker is a good person, albeit a very complicated one who makes mistakes and is quick to judge.

But who among us hasn’t made huge strides in who we were when we were 16 and who we are now? What makes this novel work in a way that it wouldn’t with others is that 1) you feel that the narrator is justified in her outlook and 2) there is significant progress in her character development and personal growth. Parker sure has been through some stuff. She was blinded at age 7 in the drunk driving accident (it was her mother drinking) that ended her mother’s life. At 13, she experienced an incredibly painful betrayal from her boyfriend and longtime best friend which she’s still not recovered from. And to top it off, her father dies three months before the start of the book. Yes, it’s easy to give Parker a pass with her snark and judgment and sniping. If not relatable, it’s understandable.

It’s also the source of the conflict of the story: Parker’s real “enemy” is what she calls her “troll brain.” We all recognize the less rational, perhaps less kind, voice in our heads that tells us one thing when we know reality is probably entirely another thing. Parker’s walls have been up for so long that she can’t see over them. When she recognizes that these walls exist, that they’re a problem, and that they must be taken down we get into the true heart of the story. This is a very internally driven story. You’re entirely in Parker’s head, and also being a person, you understand how hard it is to begin to see outside of how you have always viewed things. It’s tremendously difficult. This is where Parker’s friends get a chance to shine.

This book features so many strong female relationships. I have to say, Lindstrom writes  from the perspective of a teenage girl very realistically. Often with male YA authors writing from the female perspective, I go in cringing and and expecting the worst, but this is not the case here. Not only that, but the complexities of teen girl friendship are handled with depth and skill. Miscommunications and misunderstandings are a part of life. But the love that the girls have for each other, despite their anger, is a source of warmth and heart for the novel.

You might think that this is a contemporary romance, like I did. And there is a romantic element of sorts. But the romantic element is the result of Parker figuring herself out and making good on her mistakes. Some might consider this a love triangle since there is a gentleman Parker dates in the novel, and another gentleman for whom she still has feelings from years ago. But this isn’t really a story about romance, it’s about figuring out what you want, and about figuring out what is right (as a person and also from what you want in life).

I am not blind so I cannot speak to how well and authentically Eric Lindstrom captured what it is like to be blind. But I appreciate a YA novel that puts forth this perspective and I am glad to see the representation.

I can see why Not If I See You First would be popular, and it should be. The narrative voice is refreshing in its bluntness and “take no prisoners” attitude. The friendships are messy and real and wonderful. The conundrums are reflective of real life problems. And the ending is pitch perfect. Answers and solutions don’t come easy in life when you make a royal mess of things, and they shouldn’t in fiction either. Trust and forgiveness must be earned, and this story depicts both masterfully.



kim teal










13 Responses to “Not If I See You First: Review”

  1. Erin @ The Book Archive

    I think I am the same way–I judge books that aren’t necessarily my style more harshly, usually because I enjoy them less, no matter how well composed they actually are. It’s just personal preference, really! Contemporaries aren’t usually my thing, but I am glad to hear this one is not all about the romance. Your review is beautifully written! ♥
    Erin @ The Book Archive recently posted…Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

  2. J. Oh

    This is such a great (and helpful) review, Kim! Thank you. I read a lot of contemporary, but mostly contemporary romance, and I usually don’t love it as much as I love fantasy. When I had heard about this and read the description, I thought the voice might feel too snarky for me. But based on your review, I’m inclined to give it another chance before writing it off. :)
    J. Oh recently posted…review: Review: P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU by Jenny Han

  3. Rebecca

    I love how you put such a positive spin on a book you didn’t totally adore. Contemporaries aren’t always my thing, but I may check this one out. Great review!

  4. Alexa S.

    NOT IF I SEE YOU FIRST sounds fascinating! I love that Parker seems to be so complex, and that her history and experience really affects who she is and who she’ll become. And the fact that you pointed out the excellent friendships in this one just makes it even more appealing to me! I definitely think I’m going to have to give this one a shot.
    Alexa S. recently posted…3 Questions for Heather Demetrios (+ Cover Reveal)

    • Kim

      It is fascinating! And it was super fascinating to read a character from the blind perspective. It made the reading experience very interesting never getting a physical description of characters or a sense of facial cues, reactions, what’s going on in the world in general, etc…The friendships are A+ and so realistically captured too. Definitely recommend this for usual contemp fans!
      Kim recently posted…Not If I See You First: Review

  5. Carina Olsen

    Gorgeous review Kim. <3 I'm so glad you enjoyed this book :D Despite not loving it. Yeah, I'm not much of a fan of this genre either, lol. So I'm not going to read this one :) Though you do make it sound interesting. But aw, not really a romance? That is just depressing, lol. I always want a gorgeous romance :) Anyway. Thank you for sharing about it sweet girl. <3
    Carina Olsen recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday #216

    • Kim

      There are definitely some swoony moments! Parker goes on a date and has a flirtation with one guy. There is also another one who has a sUPER moment that she recalls in a memory. There’s a little bit…but yeah, the book isn’t really about that. And that’s okay! I appreciate it for the message it sent out.
      Kim recently posted…Not If I See You First: Review

    • Kim

      Oh totally! It’s nice to see “unpleasant” characters, and not only that but used as a vehicle to show readers (especially young ones) that just because you have always been one way does not mean you must continue to be so.
      Kim recently posted…Not If I See You First: Review