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.
It is pretty agonizing for her, and I can only imagine the huge change that it would make on your life. She is angry, questioning what makes life worth living and exploring those things. The details seem so realistic... How she is so overwhelmed when she first goes back to school, all of the noise, not knowing who is talking to her, the crowds and everything being so much harder for her academically. She can't read the board, or pay attention as well because noise at times is like an assault to her.
She keeps opening her eyes and being surprised when she is still in the dark. It just endears her to me. After her accident, she was screaming and refusing to do anything and I think that is so realistic. I could see that being my reaction. But it starts to change and she gets the curiosity and drive to try to get back into the game of life when she gets a K9 buddy, a dog named Spark. He loves her just the same and it is a constant for her. He isn't a seeing guide dog persay, but he did have training.
I adored her best friend and sister Leah. They were by her side whether she wanted it or not. Logan (female best friend) tries to keep her up to date with what is going on and helps her from class to class. She wouldn't take no for an answer in her darker days and kept coming back to visit her. And speaking of her family, there are 7 kids. It is pretty unique to get to read about a family like that and I think it was a good element. From the younger siblings we get to see the tender moments and also the questions that no one else will ask, and from the older we see the support. Emma's parents are polar opposites but they make it work and they are present in kids lives even when they sometimes agree to disagree how to handle some of the issues that arise.
And the element of the teen missing and then found? It was an okay element for me, but I wasn't overly crazy about it. I think it did help to keep the town and other teens from school from focusing too much on Emma, and it gave her another tragedy to come alongside and realize that while being blind sucks, at least she is alive. It is also an avenue for the teens to get together, get to know one another better as well as finding their safe place to talk about tragedy.
The romance is pretty light in this one, but I was okay with it. During most of her dark time, I think that it would have been unrealistic. But I will say that the romance that was there wasn't quite the direction that I expected it to go, but I was still pleased with it, and think that it fit the tone of the book.
I really enjoyed watching Emma grow, the amazing family that she has, and the support from Logan (even though their friendship was tested, and that it evolved) and her other friends that she learned to lean on and begin to let in bit after bit. Emma was well on her way to figuring out how to live as a person who has lost her sight, as well as into a beautiful and strong person.
The ending was nice, and gave me completion. Though I wouldn't mind more time with these characters, and I was sad for the time to end, I like how it wrapped up and where it left me in Emma's story.
Bottom Line: Journey of a girl finding her way in a world without sight. Also firmly a story of family and friendship.