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?
Description taken from Goodreads.
Josh Sundquist’s We Should Hang Out Sometime was more a collection of personal essays and reflection than anything else, so I treated this one as his YA debut as I was reading it. All things considered, I think Sundquist has a promising start to his career in contemporary YA. The stories and characters are still pretty rough, and I’m not sure how far this writing-about-disabilities play can go, but I’d be happy to see more of him in the future.
Hands down, the strongest part of Love and First Sight is Will. His narrative was witty and funny. It did try a bit too hard but for the most part, it worked. I loved getting to know him and his struggles. Sunquist did a great job of researching and portraying Will’s day-to-day life, especially after his surgery. The moments when he tried to explain what it was like from non-visual perspective, and when Cecily tried to explain things to him, were my favorite parts of the story.
And while some people disliked Will’s childishness in handling Cecily’s birthmark, I found it to be true to life. Not everyone can be mature at all times, and we all have feelings that don’t make the most sense. Even though I couldn’t relate to his situation specifically, I could feel his sense of betrayal when he found out the truth about Cecily. This really developed his character and showed me parts f his life that aren’t talked about directly.
What was the source of some concern was that none of the other characters are very realistic or in-depth. Some of them are lovable, particularly the adults in the book (kudos to Sundquist for positive portrayal of parents + doctors), but among the friends, most people felt like jokes of caricatures. I really got the Adi Alsaid, friends-who-are-insanely-weird vibe. That very rarely works for me because too often, the “banter” feels like substandard filler and lack of plot depth, but I know I’m the black sheep here.
If you’re a fan of this storytelling style, I’d be more inclined to recommend this one. While we’re here, I’d also recommend my favorite of this type of book, Francesca Zappia’s Made You Up.
Overall, it’s not fantastic, but Love and First Sight had the same wit and insight that I loved in We Should Hang Out Sometime. The writing flows, and the narration is easy to follow. I hope to see significant growth from him in the books to come, but I’d say it’s a solid YA debut from Josh Sundquist. 2.5 stars.