Archive for the ‘Blindness’ Category

Parker Grant is blind. Three months earlier, at the beginning of summer vacation, her father died. Her aunt, uncle, and two cousins moved into her house to avoid the necessity of Parker having to learn a whole new routine. Right now she’s practically self sufficient. Each morning she walks by herself to the local park and sprints laps. NotIfISeeYouFirst

Parker has a set of rules, some of them necessitated by her blindness, such as Rule #2: Don’t touch me without asking or warning me. I can’t see it coming. I will always be surprised, and probably hurt you. But it’s Rule #INFINITY–There are NO second chances. Violate my trust and I’ll never trust you again. Betrayal is unforgivable.  —  that will be tested in the upcoming school year when two high schools merge into one and she again comes in contact with Scott.

When they were 13, Scott and Parker were a couple…until he betrayed her trust. Then she shut him out. Now they are in the same trigonometry class. Are the feelings still there, three years later?

I liked Not If I See You First for several reasons. One reason is that it shows that blind people can be fully functional. Parker runs track, can help in the kitchen, and is a good student. While, yes, there are some areas in which she needs an assist, for the most part, she is self sufficient, spunky and independent.

I also liked the book because of the characters. Parker has a devoted group of friends in Sarah, Faith and Molly. They embrace her and are there for her through thick and thin. It’s the kind of friendship that most of us want.

I like Linkdstrom’s writing. It’s easy going. The story is interesting and unusual.

Finally, there aren’t many young adult books about people with disabilities, especially blindness. Blind by Rachel DeWoskin is the only one that comes to mind. So this is an area that needs more books.Blind

I will admit that the ending was a cop out, in my opinion, but that’s a minor criticism. Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom should be on your reading list.

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Emma Sasha Silver is fourteen when she is blinded by a backfiring fireworks at a town BlindFourth of July celebration. For the next six months she remains a lump on the gold couch in her living room, doing little to learn how to live in her dark world. It is then that her parents (doctor father, artist mother) decide to send her to the Briarly Academy for the Blind. It is there that she learns to cope with many of the physical day to day tasks of living. However, it did little to enable Emma to cope with the psychological trauma of blindness after being able to see for fourteen years.

A year after “the accident”, Emma is now mainstreamed into high school. The excitement of this remarkable achievement is overshadowed by the drowning death of Claire, a friend and classmate. Adults and grief counselors, rather than addressing the death head on (suicide? accident?) offer only platitudes and half truths.

But Emma wants to know more…why? What happened? What caused Claire’s death? How can kids help each other avoid getting to the point of suicide? She organizes a group of kids to meet and talk. Will it help? You’ll find out.

There’s a lot to like in Blind by Rachel DeWoskin. Firstly, it’s the first teen book that I know about that deals with blindness and it handles it very  well. The range of emotions. The techniques for getting around (organizing clothing with Braille labels, a place for everything and everything in its place). Emma has six siblings from older sisters Leah and Sarah to Babiest Baby Lily. Of course, Emma’s first thoughts are me, me, me. Why me? How can I live? Who will love me? But there comes a time when Emma realizes that her entire family has been affected by her blindness and she begins to see outward.

At first I thought the death of Claire was an obstacle in reading the book. There was a significant story just in dealing with the blindness and its impact on everyone. But later I realized that the contrast between what Emma went through and the “unknown” that Claire went through is an important part of the story. What makes a survivor? Why can one person live and thrive after becoming blind while another potentially ended her life on purpose without enduring anything nearly as catastrophic.

The characters in Blind are great. They run the gamut from best friend Logan who helps Emma manage getting around to some cynical classmates to Emma’s sisters, some understanding, some gruff. It’s interesting to note that the younger ones sometimes have the most honest perspective…but we all know that…out of the mouths of babes.

So, while I think Blind is a wonderful book and definitely worth reading, I do have one small criticism. A little bit better editing and deletion of about 50 pages would have made it a tighter, better book.  But, hey, if that’s the only criticism, that’s not bad. Blind is a welcome addition to YA literature. It opened my eyes. (Please forgive me for that one. I just couldn’t help it.)


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DogCalledHomeless“My name is Cally Louise Fisher, and I haven’t spoken for thirty-one days.” So opens the heart-warming A Dog Called Homeless, the debut novel by Sarah Lean, which won the Schneider Family Book Award which honors “an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences”. Not bad for a debut novel.

What started out as a fund raiser, get sponsors who think you can stay silent for one whole school day, turned into a 31 day rally for Cally, because once she saw that people treated her no differently, it didn’t seem important to talk.

Background: Cally’s mother died in an auto accident a year before. Since then, her father has withdrawn, they’ve had to move into a smaller apartment and her best friend ditched her. She ‘sees’ her mother in various places, the first time at the cemetary on the anniversary of her death, but no one believes her. So, what’s the sense of talking. The second time Cally sees her mom, a big grey wolfhound is with her…except the dog is real.

Her downstairs neighbor is Sam, who is totally blind, mostly deaf  and has a heart murmer. Sam’s mother teaches Cally how to ‘write on Sam’s hand’, which according to Cally isn’t considered talking. Together, the two tackle the hardships of their particular worlds.

As I said at the beginning, A Dog Called Homeless is a heart-warming, charming book that will teach you about what’s important in life, how to deal with the loss of someone close to you and the love of family. I should have seen the ending coming, but I didn’t. It was a great ending, as far as I’m concerned. Cally is a darling of a girl and A Dog Called Homeless is a darling of a book.

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