Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist

Published: 2nd January 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

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?

This is an interesting book because it makes you think about whether given the option, would vision impaired people chose to gain their sight? Like most groups there are arguments for and against, there are people who have no desire while others would give it a go. Will is someone in the camp of wanting his sight but Sundquist makes it a gradual decision, something which has developed as he experiences more things with sighted people. Personally I was surprised Will chose to do this. I understand completely that being blind in a world so reliant on sight would be incredibly hard, but Will never seemed to worry about it, his change of heart comes from his time with Cecily and it makes him reconsider.

Sundquist does put forward both sides of the debate, Will’s dad makes a good argument for why Will doesn’t need to have sight for his life to be fulfilled, and showcases the amazing skills he had gained from living his life without sight. Even for a fiction book it was incredibly hard for me to wish Will didn’t get the surgery. It isn’t for a sighted person to tell someone they shouldn’t get a chance to see, but I will admit I agreed with Will’s dad at the start, he had developed a range of skills that he would lose when sighted. Where Will’s dad was against the surgery I thought his mum was pushing for it. I felt like her desire in life was to “fix” Will, while nothing is stated outright I felt like his inability to see had been a burden on her life and she never trusted him to navigate the world on his own, giving him sight would free her from this.

One interesting component was the way we are brought into Will’s sightless world. There is great imagery and explanations about how he goes about his day to day life and I will admit it was quite fascinating seeing him learn and understand about the sighted world. Things sighted people learn naturally are completely incomprehensible to him and I liked the gentle and vivid way those around him explained things. On the flip side, I loved how Cecily explains images and experiences to Will. They capture a moment in vivid detail that even if you can’t picture it, you grasp the concept. It was a clever approach and something her character would be capable of doing.

I liked Cecily, she was friendly and helpful and her friendship with Will develops and grows in a believable way. I initially was annoyed that Will would find Cecily unattractive because of something simple, but Sundquist actually explains it quite well about how it is much deeper than looks, it is about trust and betrayal. I was prepared to argue when I picked what her secret was, but to his credit Will handles it well and adds a few reflections and arguments of his own about the nature of beauty and societal expectations.

I was curious why Sundquist chose this topic, as an amputee he understands what it can be like missing something, but it was an interesting experience to chose to write from, especially one where it essentially gets “fixed”. Sundquist adds suspense and uncertainty whether Will’s operation will succeed which gives some extra tension, especially since we’ve follow Will’s fears and wishes about wanting to experience the sighted world. Whatever you think about his decision it is a sweet story and one that demonstrates the differences between the sighted and non-sighted world. The focus of the book is about Will and his sight, but there are heartfelt moments about friendship and living a full life around that as well which gives it a bit more narrative variation.

You can purchase Love and First Sights via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Angus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

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