Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom
Format: Hardcover (Early Copy – received from NOVL)
My Rating: 4/4.5
Synopsis: 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 post will consist of TWO parts: a short review followed by a Q&A w/ the author!
What an absolutely amazing and refreshing YA contemporary book!
This is such a realistic and eye opening contemporary book featuring our blind main character, Parker Grant. Parker is one the best MC’s I’ve read in a while, her attitude may make her appear as an unlikeable character, but I happened to love her. Parker is the kind of friend everyone needs to teach them a lesson or two about life. Her character and her actions and problems are all extremely realistic and Linstrom does an OUTSTANDING job of crafting everything together; plot-wise and character development wise among other things.
So I usually have a probably with some contemporary novels because they always seem to feature a useless sub-plot that’s supposed to help or guide the MC to the resolution of the book…but this book didn’t have that. AND I LOVE IT DUE TO THAT REASON. Everything that happened happened for a reason. Parker’s character changes a lot and she learns from her mistakes and owns up to her mistakes and it’s done SO well.
So, we have great characters (secondary characters as well – super awesome) and a good plot. What are you all waiting for??? GO PICK UP THIS BOOK!
Now that I’ve let you know my thoughts on NOT IF I SEE YOU FIRST, here are Eric’s A’s to my Q’s!
- What’s been your favorite and least favorite thing about writing NOT IF I SEE YOU FIRST? (Whether it be writing, editing, plotting, etc.)
I love writing scenes for the first time. I know the characters, what they want, what they are afraid of, where they are in life, and the purpose for the scene, but that’s all. Writing then is like improv of a sort, where you start with a given idea, but then the characters drive what actually happens. This process is surprising and fun. My least favorite part of writing is when I’ve sent a draft off to my agent or editor and I’m waiting for their reaction. There’s actually no reason to fear this because even when I get a response that’s more critical than glowing, it always results in a revision that I like better than the previous draft. But still it’s pins and needles.
- Were there any aspects of writing a novel that you [thought] were simple but then as you started writing turned out to be difficult?
Unlike so many people at parties who say they would write a novel if they only had the time, I never thought it would be easy. But one element that turned out even harder than I expected was the conflict between what characters want to do and what I want the story to be about. It’s one thing to want to write a story about a woman who leaves her fiancé at the altar, goes on a Nile cruise to find herself, and discovers she wants to marry her fiancé after all and returns to make amends; but you can’t just create an interesting character and have her do those things. You need someone who would want to. The story beats you have in mind might not make sense for any one realistic person to go through, or to do so in the order you want. Having a firm idea of a story to tell, and also to create realistic characters who behave as they are naturally motivated to do, is the hardest balancing act to maintain.
- Out of all the fictional characters out there, which one do you identify with yourself the most?
Identify with, as oppose to like, or admire? Probably Charlie Brown. And any conclusions you draw from that are likely accurate.
- I’m always fascinated to figure out how authors reach the “Aha!” moment when it comes to their title. Was it easy to name this book?
Titles are never easy for me. I always have a working title and then come up with a different one at the end. My working title is not meant to be a lure, or a hook, or even be interesting; it’s just something I want to keep in mind as I write each page. Then at the end I look at the finished book and think about what suits it best. With Parker’s story, the expression “Not if I see you first” is hinted at throughout the story, but it isn’t said exactly until almost the end. It was meant to be something special between characters, a theme of the story, and also a melody of sorts that didn’t resolve till the end. When it came time to decide on a final title, the Aha! moment was seeing that this melody threading through Parker’s story would be the perfect title for the book.
- I commend you for systematically putting this book together SO well because I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you wanted readers to walk away with ONE message after reading NOT IF I SEE YOU FIRST, what would it be?
If I had to choose one message to take away from Not If I See You First, it would be “Don’t jump to conclusions!” This is not only a recurring theme in the book, and a particular challenge for Parker, it’s also an underlying statement about one of our biggest challenges as a community. When you see a blind girl, don’t assume you know what her blindness means to her, or how it might or might not affect her life, or that it’s her main defining trait. Now go back and instead of “blind” substitute pretty much anything else: blond, Chinese, wearing baggy jeans, Mormon, in a wheelchair, bisexual, Harvard Grad, etc. Real people are complex, and any assumptions made about them based on superficial or isolated information are probably wrong. Getting to know Parker reveals someone whose blindness is an attribute, not an obstacle. She’s also very prickly, yet getting to know her further, you can see her spines are protection she believes she needs. Then if you still think Parker is unjustifiably selfish and ungrateful, it’s fair as an informed opinion based on knowledge, not assumptions.
- Any favorite current (or past) reads that you can’t stop thinking about that you’d love to share?
I’ve always loved Dr. Seuss, the first books I ever read. Later as an adult I found Barbara Park’s Junie B. Jones, and I’m still sad there will be no more stories about her. In YA, my first love was Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted, which—true embarrassing story—I had no idea was a take on Cinderella till I got to the end. This tells you a lot about me if you think about it. But I would have to say the book that made the biggest impression on me was Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. When I was maybe kindergarten age, I hated that book. Hated it. But somehow I wanted it read to me again and again, like it was a puzzle I was trying to solve. Every time I would rail to my mother about how terrible it was, how the tree gave itself entirely to this ungrateful guy, piece by piece, and got nothing in return, not even at the very end! My mother would always say, “You’ll understand when you grow up.” But when I grew up, I still didn’t understand. Then I had children, and watching them play one day, I got it all at once and it nearly knocked me over. I can’t say I love it now, but I’ve never encountered any other book that delivered a message so powerfully true and fundamental without diluting it with what readers might want in a fun story to read. While I don’t necessarily aspire to that as an author, I respect it more than I can articulate.