When I found out that Josh Sundquist had a new book coming on in 2017 I squealed in delight. Then I was a teensy tiny bit trepidatious. I mean, I adored – like flat out head over heels adored – his memoir We Should Hang Out Sometime. In fact, it was one of my favorite reads in 2015. I also credit it as being the book that brought my husband and I together… I had just finished reading it when I met him, and it was the first book I recommended to him (I didn’t get it back until we got married and joined our book collections). Josh’s work is very dear to me. But I was nervous – I mean, Love and First Sight would be a genuine YA novel, not a piece of non-fiction… Would it live up to the hype?
I shouldn’t have worried about it. Sundquist’s trademark sunny disposition and wry humor shine through the pages of Will’s story and make this book truly a delight. Will is an upbeat protagonist struggling with the difficult decision to have a surgery that may be able to grant him eyesight for the first time in his life. Having been born blind, he has absolutely no idea what the world looks like – he can’t even begin to conceptualize the things he’s missed out on. But he’s also very content with the life he’s living, and there are a ton of risks that go along with the experimental surgery. There’s a good chance that he still might not be able to see, or that he’ll go crazy because his brain might not be able to process sight at all.
I was definitely intrigued by the premise, and I wanted to know more about blindness and real life operations that have been successful in restoring eyesight to those born without it. Sundquist does an excellent job giving readers information without overwhelming the plot with facts or figures.
At its heart though, this book is about so much more than blindness. It’s about falling in love, it’s about how we define beauty (as a culture, as a society, as individuals), and it’s about learning to see past someone (or something’s) imperfection to really get to their core. I loved the complex ideas about beauty – Will has never seen a person in his life, yet he is still somewhat under the influence of societal beauty standards, and he has to fight against them to figure out what he really thinks and feels about Cecily. Their relationship develops beautifully, and I was rooting for them throughout the book.
If you’re looking for a refreshing contemporary YA, this is definitely a great choice – it’s got romance, whimsy, hilarious characters, and it deals with some really interesting topics that don’t get nearly enough coverage in YA.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars