“Every night I get to add a gold star if I earn it. Tonight’s makes eighty-one gold stars. Eighty-one consecutive days without crying.”
Title: Not If I See You First
Author: Eric Lindstrom
Publication: December 1st 2015 by Poppy
Source: Author signing at ALA Annual
Summary from Goodreads:
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.
- Don’t deceive me. Ever. Especially using my blindness. Especially in public.
- Don’t touch me without asking or warning me. I can’t see it coming, I will always be surprised , and I will probably hurt you.
- Don’t touch my cane or any of my stuff. I need everything to be exactly where I left it. Obviously.
- Don’t help me unless I ask. Otherwise you’re just getting in my way or bothering me.
- Don’t talk extra loud to me. I’m not deaf. You’d be surprised how often this happens. And if you’re not surprised, you ought to be.
- Don’t talk to people I’m with like they’re my handlers. And yes, this also happens all the time.
- Don’t speak for me, either. Not to anyone, not even your own friends or your kids. Remember, you’re not my handler.
- Don’t treat me like I’m stupid or a child. Blind doesn’t mean brain damaged, so don’t speak slowly or use small words. Do I really have to explain this?
- Don’t enter or leave my area without saying so. Otherwise, I won’t even know if you’re there. It’s just common courtesy.
- Don’t make sounds to help or guide me. It’s just silly and rude, and believe me, you’ll be the one who looks stupid and ends up embarrassed, not me.
- Don’t be weird. Seriously, other than having my eyes closed all the time, I’m just like you only smarter.
Rule # Infinity. There are NO second chances. Violate my trust and I’ll never trust you again. Betrayal is unforgivable.
This book is the epitome of all the right feels in all the right places. Honestly, Not If I See You First is an absolutely amazing read that will both rock your socks off and gut punch you all at the same time. In this unforgettable debut, Eric Lindstrom has crafted something that has tethered itself deep into my veins – the very roots of everything I am. I don’t know how to describe what this book did to me. At first I thought it was just meh, but as soon as I started to think about it I realized just how much I was connecting to each and every tiny detail this book had to offer.
Not If I See You First is a story of navigating heartbreak and redemption. It is a story of love, friendship, loss, and inner turmoil. It was breathtaking. I think I fell in love with Parker, our protagonist, from the very fist page – and by the end of the prologue I was complexly hooked and unable to put it down. I read through more than half of the book on Saturday alone and I finished it early Sunday morning. Guys… I read through the book basically for the duration of Reed Family Christmas – that once a year event that makes my heart hurt and my head go pitter patter – wait, did I put that in the right order? Who cares, you get the picture. I think I sat with my nose in this book for the entire night save for the gift exchange and when I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer – I thought my Nana was going to take the book from me and make me socialize (the horror).
Parker Grant. Oh my goodness, Parker Grant is the perfect, most astounding, unlikable lovable character in existence. She is complex, complicated, crazy, and…. I was trying to come up with six C words like her soda ( C-6), but nope. She has become one of my favorite characters of all time, not just because I can relate with the fact that she can’t see (Reminder, I am legally blind in one eye). Parker is a very interesting character, and like I said, she isn’t really likable – but I love her for it. She’s a bitch really; a brutally honest bitch that can’t tell when you flinch so she doesn’t care – and I respect that. Of course she is still kind/tender-hearted and all that jazz, but it isn’t a main part of her character. If anything, her usual lack of empathy is a huge part of her character development throughout the course of the book. Now, Parker has her reasons, and her rules, for the way she acts. She had her heart broken in the eighth grade – and I mean broken: ripped out of her chest, stomped on, and crushed by someone she whole-heartedly loved. Or so she thinks – more on that later. But, because of what happened (which I’m not going to describe) she has virtually shut every person out except for a select few, and I don’t blame her one bit. Parker has a razor sharp wit and she isn’t afraid to use it on anyone that crosses her path, which makes for some extremely entertaining encounters. She is a lot of things really – witty, hilarious, stubborn, untouchable, broken inside – but above all, she is a fighter. I think that was part of what I identified with most, how much she fought just to be normal when she and what was going on around her was everything but. That big break down she finally has? Yup, I’ve done that, in public, in the middle of the freaken quad too. It’s nice to know you’re not alone.
As for the other characters in this book, holy guacamole I need me some of them. Sarah, Molly, Faith… ugh, ultimate squad goals right there folks. I have my own squad, rest assured, and I love them all to pieces – but Parker’s squad is literary gold. Each and every supporting character in this book is well rounded, complex, and a necessary component to the story itself. I always hate it characters are there just to be there – but that is not the case here. These guys are key players in every way, shape, and form possible. Considering that friendship is a huge part of this book, they sort of needed to be essential players – and Lindstrom killed it, knocked it out of the park, and any other euphemism you can come up with meaning he kicked its ass into last week in such a way that it enjoyed the trip.
Considering pretty much the entire conflict in this book is centered around Parker’s broken heart, I might as well talk about the romance – or the lack thereof. This book doesn’t need the romance to keep it afloat, if anything, I think it would have weighed it down with its unnecessary tropes. There is still faint hints of romance, don’t get me wrong or anything, but it’s so minuscule that it might as well have never existed at all. This book is entirely about Parker and her relationships with others, but it mostly focused on her internal healing after everything she’s been through. The faint hints of romance with Scott and Jason is something that helps her along the way. It isn’t overly cheesy, or overly anything really – it’s just right and the only way it should have been. Mr. Lindstrom deserves a round of applause for that folks. There is this one part that makes me squeal, and it’s where I am assuming the title comes from. Scott, he’s the main man squeeze here, has been friends with Parker since forever basically. After she went blind, instead of saying goodbye – they now have this thing where when one of them says “I’ll see you later”, the other responds with “Not if I see you first.” And, ugh, the feels. That’s all I have to say about that.
Not If I See You First shares an amazing message about the path of healing: the first step towards healing begins with yourself. Nothing about this book is contrived, each and every tiny little aspect on the pages are balanced and illustrated in such a way as to bring about the closest form of perfection possible. This book is satisfying in all the ways a good book should be. If there is one thing to add to your last minute Christmas wish list, this is definitely it.