Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 160
engaging YA contemporary with important themes
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
WHAT I WANT YOU TO SEE is an interesting book that discusses homelessness, choices and their intersection with privilege, as well as art. Sabine is a student at CALINVA, a prestigious art school that she always dreamed of attending. The goal seemed unattainable until she received the Zoich scholarship. Now that she is at the school, she is having trouble navigating, particularly with regards to Krell, one of her professors who she had dreamed of working with, but who seems to frequently rip her work apart.

Sabine feels alone, in part because she is still dealing with the loss of her mother as well as the consequences of her mother's death, such as her homelessness and food insecurity. As such, she winds up being easy prey for the smooth-talking graduate student, who gets her what she wants most- a peek at Krell's secret, and very expensive, painting. Right and wrong are tangled in her mind, and as she seeks to piece apart what she is doing, she also tentatively thinks about who she wants in her life.

What I loved: This book sparks some excellent discourse about homelessness, the way they are viewed, and the challenges of being a college student. There is also valuable discussion about privilege and how this can relate to morality (e.g. belief of what one would do in a situation that one could not feasibly be actually put into due to privilege). Sabine experiences a lot of growth throughout the book as well as a lot of self-actualization. College is a difficult age, where one is deciding who they want to be. There's a lot of value in this book in showing the challenges of this journey.

What left me wanting more: Although I found the book overall highly engaging, there are parts that feel like you feel like you are very slowly on a collision course- that is, the pace can be a bit slow at times, and you can definitely see what Sabine cannot about how these things will likely blow up in her face. This will work for some readers and not for others. I would say that it is definitely worth sticking with.

Final verdict: Overall, this is a great YA contemporary, coming-of-age read about defining yourself, moving forward, and learning from your mistakes. Sabine is a highly sympathetic character who certainly drives this engaging novel. Highly recommend for people looking for a deeper, heavier YA contemporary read.
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