**Thank you to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for providing me a digital ARC of this novel via Netgalley for the purposes of review**
I do wish you could give fractions of stars because this book would get a 4.5/5* from me. I’m familiar with Josh Sundquist via his previous memoir We Should Hang Out Sometime and his YouTube account which I’ve followed for a few years, and so, needless to say, I enjoy his content and was more than a little excited to see what he would bring to the creative table from a fictional perspective.
Perspective…it’s an interesting word — perspective, vision, sight, and the subtle differences between those three words both etymologically and meaning-wise are one of the cores of this novel. Sundquist injects great amount of humour into what could have been a rather maudlin and saccharine tale of Will, a blind teenager, who gets the chance to undergo an experimental procedure in order to “see” for the first time in his life. You would think the novel would then read in two parts: before the surgery and after the surgery. Instead, there are three, maybe even four, as there is, indeed, before Will can see, after he can see, and after he “sees.”
Sight and insight; perspective and vision. Sundquist is taking motifs of classic literature and bringing them a new voice — one that also calls to mind a true bildungsroman and a hero’s journey. There’s even a road trip in the last quarter! (Please note: I’m a sucker for a good road trip story, so I was inordinately excited about this bit.)
Beyond the plethora of well-integrated themes this novel explores, the strength of the story lies in the voice of Will. We’re in his head for the entirety of the novel and he describes the world in a way that is fresh and yet familiar. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to write a story that paints a picture of its world, without truly being able to describe what it “looks” like due to the condition of the protagonist. And after Will undergoes surgery, the descriptions of the world around him become even more interesting because, as it is in life, he cannot suddenly (or magically) see with perfect clarity. I’m no science person (quite the opposite, really), but I think it’s clear that Sundquist did a good deal of research in order to articulate Will’s difficulties post-surgery. It’s fantastic and truly draws you further into Will’s story because it feels more realistic; his frustrations and his pain (emotional and, at times, physical) ring more true than if he had suddenly been able to experience the world as if he had never been blind at all.
If I had to critique anything, I could probably critique the love story a bit, as it certainly is a little on the side of predictable, but, honestly, it’s okay. I’m perfectly find with its predictability because I cared about the characters. I cared about Will and his friends, and I wanted them all to be happy and to find some kind of happiness together.
This is a lovely book, and a wonderful addition to the Young Adult contemporary genre that brings humour and wit to a wholly sincere story.