Sundquist (We Should Hang Out Sometime, 2014) explores blindness and sight in his first novel.
Aspiring to be "the Stevie Wonder of journalism," white, congenitally blind Will Porter is confident that mainstreaming into high school at 16 will be a snap. But things get awkward when he falls for Cecily, an artistic, evasive white girl with a knack for explaining visual concepts. Soon, Will learns that he has the opportunity to gain eyesight via experimental retinal stem-cell implants. His difficult decision sensitively explores disability and its influence on identity. The author's research shows; there are frequent explanations of eyesight and its relationship to the brain. That information is critical for understanding the disorientation and frustration that Will experiences upon gaining eyesight. Sight requires him to learn colors, shapes, and perspective as if he's just been born—which, in a sense, he has. Such surprises as racial differences (when he sees African-American pal Whitford for the first time he thinks, “What’s the fuss about?”), paintings, and a "counterintuitive" snowstorm prompt interesting reflections, and his new perspective is tested when he realizes that Cecily's appearance significantly differs from his cheerfully nerdy new friends' descriptions of her. The juxtaposition of blindness with (not) judging by appearances is common, but the author gives depth to the trope by highlighting the betrayal Will feels at the exploitation of his blindness. The resolution is optimistic yet realistically open-ended.
Thought-provoking and insightful. (author's note) (Romance. 13-18)