Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist
Overall: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Will Porter is a sophomore in high school when he attends public school for the first time, leaving the bubble of his private boarding school for the blind. He wants to be a journalist, so he joins the school paper. His first assignment is with a girl named Cecily, a photographer, who takes him to the art museum and does such an amazing job of describing the paintings to him that he starts to fall for her. He also by chance joins her only friends at lunch, and they become his friends too. Well into Will’s crush on Cecily he learns about an experimental surgery to give him eyesight. He eventually decides to have the surgery despite all the risks, but the recovery is not what he expects, and especially Cecily is not what he expects. SPOILER ALERT He pushes her away, but eventually he and his friends go on a road trip from their home in Kansas to her dad’s home in Los Angeles so he can win her back.
My favorite thing about this book were the descriptions of Will’s experiences as a blind person and also as a person learning to see for the first time, especially his explanations of depth perception, relative size, colors, and navigation. It was also sort of interesting how quickly he realized that Cecily didn’t look like everyone else, and that she wasn’t “pretty”. I did find myself wondering how he knew. But overall he had fallen for her personality and ultimately that doesn’t stop him. The other aspect to this story is the physical and emotional risks to the surgery. It involves stem cells and Will’s body begins rejecting them, so there is also a risk that he will then lose the eyesight that he had gained (ultimately he keeps it). But there are also cases of people gaining eyesight and getting depressed for a variety of reasons, including trouble adjusting to the new sense and becoming aware that they are not attractive. Will’s father is against him choosing the surgery, which leads to some tense moments, but eventually comes around to support his son.
In terms of Will and Cecily’s relationship, it is very very chaste and they only kiss at the very end. The Cecily storyline reminded me a bit of Wonder, so this might be good for fans of that book. Overall it reads more like a middle-grade novel than a YA one, especially with the happy ending.