With traces of John Green’s Looking for Alaska (2005), DeWoskin’s first teen novel explores death and darkness.
Blinded in a fireworks accident, Emma Silver has finally learned to find “shorelines” with her white cane and identify her six wildly different siblings by their breathing. Her rehabilitation is meticulously described, from learning to decipher braille to containing her panic. She’s spent a year she’d rather forget at the Briarly School for the Blind trying not to be a “poor blind kid” and finds the world has changed again upon return to her insular hometown: Claire Montgomery, a former classmate, is found drowned in an apparent suicide. As much to explore her fears after blindness as to talk about Claire’s death, she leads a group of somewhat two-dimensional classmates in philosophical discussions but feels—literally and figuratively—her best friend growing distant. Emma’s poetic, sensory narration heightens the typical teen angst of sex, cliques and growing apart. Flashbacks to her year at Briarly flesh out her frustration and fear of embracing a blind identity while raising hopes of an active life as a blind person. Her increasing bravery parallels new understanding of her siblings and friends, and here the disability-as-metaphor trope actually works—“Going blind is a little bit like growing up.”
A vivid, sensory tour of the shifting landscapes of blindness and teen relationships. (Fiction. 14-18)