Rachel DeWoskin’s Blind was a book I was curious about, but I wasn’t so sure it would be my sort of book. The blurb somehow made it sound like it would be a murder mystery, but, honestly, that’s really misleading. Blind really is not that. If you’re here for that, then you’re going to be disappointed. Actually, Blind is a rather strange book, more of a character study than anything. It’s going to be a struggle for a lot of readers, but highly pleasing for a select group. Blind is an in-depth study of what life is like for a newly blind teenager.
There’s not much plot in Blind. The only real conflict is Emma’s inner conflict. The arc is her coming to terms with her blindness and learning to accept her new self. The suicide is important to her, but it’s not action or drama really. The most dramatic bit is some friendship trouble. Otherwise, this book is very realistic on the ins and outs of her days. We call the genre realistic fiction, but usually it’s a fictional realistic. It’s all believable, but it’s the most exciting week in someone’s life or their life is just a bit more exciting than a person’s usually is or the boring bits are skipped. Blind is realistic in the minutiae. It’s mostly the boring bits, which is cool, but also slow-going and definitely going to be a hindrance to some readers.
Blind is one of those cases where I probably would have DNFed the book in print, but I enjoyed the audio. Though Annalie Gernert didn’t read with all that much emotion, her narration really fit with Emma, who is very quiet and thoughtful. Even when she gets angry, she tends to do it quietly. She’s not generally very spontaneous. This is actually a side effect of her blindness, because she’s trying really hard not to stand out. Thus, the measured reading really seemed like it WAS Emma and that brought her alive enough for me to care about the tiny details of her daily life.
Plus, it’s really fascinating to learn so many details about what it’s like to be blind. Blind definitely taught me things I hadn’t known before, especially about the differences between being born blind and becoming blind later in life. There’s a lot about how Emma learns to function so well. This is a great book for awareness of other ways of experiencing the world.
The writing was really unique. Emma perceives the world in a way that comes across almost as synesthesia. She hears sounds and imagines them as colors. Textures too. She can sometimes hear what color something is, though she’s not always right about that. I’m not sure if this is a byproduct of having once had sight or an Emma thing. It makes the narration really unique though.
What Left Me Wanting More:
The book’s main drawback, as I said, is how slow it is. You’ve got to be there for a long emotional journey. In the end, Emma comes to a really healthy place. She learns to accept her new self and gains more self-confidence than she even had before the accident that took her sight. She and her best friend come through their troubles still friends. Emma learns that she’s lovable and even makes moves to get herself a boy (or two). She bonds with her least favorite sibling in a way that’s really heart-warming. Her character arc is ultimately very worth it, if you can manage to slog through the details.
Also, there's a really sad animal death.
The Final Verdict:
Blind is most definitely worth checking out if you’re a reader who enjoys in-depth character studies or want to learn more about blindness. If you’re a plot-oriented reader, I’d advise you to steer clear.