Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on January 3, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Love is more than meets the eye.
On his first day at a new school, blind sixteen-year-old Will Porter accidentally groped a girl on the stairs, sat on another student in the cafeteria, and somehow drove a classmate to tears. High school can only go up from here, right?
As Will starts to find his footing, he develops a crush on a sweet but shy girl named Cecily. And despite his fear that having a girlfriend will make him inherently dependent on someone sighted, the two of them grow closer and closer. Then an unprecedented opportunity arises: an experimental surgery that could give Will eyesight for the first time in his life. But learning to see is more difficult than Will ever imagined, and he soon discovers that the sighted world has been keeping secrets. It turns out Cecily doesn’t meet traditional definitions of beauty—in fact, everything he’d heard about her appearance was a lie engineered by their so-called friends to get the two of them together. Does it matter what Cecily looks like? No, not really. But then why does Will feel so betrayed?
My reading got off to a great start in 2017 with Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist. This young adult contemporary story is about a teenager named Will who was born blind. Will decides to attend public high school for the first time, and the book opens on his first day of school. What follows is an absolutely adorable story filled with romance, friendship, and seeing for the first time.
I was a bit nervous going into this book, as I read We Should Hang Out Sometime by Sundquist a couple years back and thought it was just okay. Unlike his earlier memoir, Love and First Sight sucked me in right away. The story is told from Will’s first-person perspective, and I absolutely loved his voice. Will sounds like a teenager does in real life, but his narrative flows really well. I was also very impressed with how Sundquist was able to use his writing to create a unique atmosphere for the reader. Since Will is blind, Sundquist describes things without any visual cues. I could feel the difference in his storytelling, and I really appreciated his attention to detail.
Similarly, Sundquist did extensive research in order to accurately represent what it is like to be visually impaired. While I am a sighted person, it felt like this representation was done quite respectfully. A big part of Love and First Sight focuses on how sighted people treat those who are visually impaired, and also what it is like to learn to see after being blind. I learned a lot from this book, and I really like that Sundquist does not hold back when it comes to pointing out some of the horrible things sighted people do when around the visually impaired. For example, I was shocked at the secrets and deception in the novel!
Moreover, I absolutely love the romance in Love and First Sight. Will meets a girl named Cecily and the two get paired up for a project in journalism class. I was on board with their romance from the beginning, and I found it so cute! I am not usually a big fan of romance, but this one had me swooning and hoping for the best. Plus, Cecily plays an important role in the novel in addition to being Will’s love interest. I am impressed with how Love and First Sight is so multi-layered. I loved the theme of beauty in the novel, and what it means to be beautiful in society versus being beautiful to another person. I can see myself rereading this book in the future to get a new perspective on it now that I know what is to happen.
My criticisms of the novel are quite small. First, some sentences are repeated in the novel in order to introduce a person or theme. I did read an advance copy of the novel, so it is possible this repetition got edited out. In addition, I found Love and First Sight to be extremely fast-paced. However, I did think the ending was a bit too rushed, and I would have appreciated the action slowing down a bit to make the book last just a bit longer. Otherwise, I truly loved and enjoyed everything about this book!
All in all, I highly recommend picking up Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist. It is a very balanced novel in that it will make you laugh and make you cry, and you will be swooning over the adorable romance as well. Plus, I loved the inclusion of the board game Settlers of Catan! Sundquist gets some bonus points for that. I hope to see more novels from Sundquist in the future, as I adored his storytelling and will definitely pick up more books by him if they are released!
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