Book Review – Blind by Rachel DeWoskin
October 27, 2014
Imagine this: You are fourteen, watching the fireworks at a 4th of July party, when a rocket backfires into the crowd and strikes your eyes, leaving you blind. In that instant, your life is changed forever. How do you face a future in which all your expectations must be different? You will never see the face of your newborn sister, never learn to drive. Will you ever have a job or fall in love? This is Emma’s story. The drama is in her many small victories as she returns to high school in her home town and struggles to define herself and make sense of her life, determined not to be dismissed as a PBK – Poor Blind Kid. This heartfelt and heart wrenching story takes you on Emma’s journey and leaves you with a new understanding of the challenges to be faced when life deals a devastating blow.
What the Goodreads synopsis fails to mention is another significant plot line that runs throughout the story – a local girl apparently commits suicide the summer after Emma’s accident, and Emma struggles to understand why her friend would kill herself when Emma is the one who endured a great tragedy. Unfortunately, it is a weak, underdeveloped story line that had the potential to contribute significantly to the development of the main character, Emma. The parts of the story that deal with the suicide and peer reactions never really drew me in – they felt forced and lacked the emotional depth they had the potential to evoke. On the flip side, I enjoyed reading about Emma’s personal journey – her emotional struggles following the accident, the specifics of her recovery, the changes in her relationships with various members of her family, and the changes within herself as the book evolves. DeWoskin spent time at the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind in preparation for this book, and that research is apparent throughout the book (side note – I would love to go visit this school myself!).
DeWoskin’s work contains beautiful writing and imagery. Some of my favorite language includes referring to the sun as “our own burning gold balloon” as well as Emma comparing her sister to “an icy lemon drink at the end of the desert I still had to cross”. The book is filled with so many phrases like these that by the end of the book, I found myself starting to get bogged down by them, serving as a distraction rather than an asset to the plot.
Overall, I thought this was a good book, but it had the potential to be a great book, and I was disappointed that it didn’t quite achieve that. If you do choose to read Blind, you will learn a great deal while encountering some beautiful writing along the way.
What did you think of Blind? Have you read any other books that you would recommend in which someone comes to terms with a life-changing disability?