Book review by
Joanna H. Kraus, Common Sense Media
Blind Book Poster Image
Blind teen probes a friend's death in compelling tale.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers will learn what it's like when suddenly the world "goes dark," how every activity of one's life must be relearned. There are myriad details involved in coping: learning braille, learning anew how to use a fork and knife, learning to sense landmarks or find a "shoreline" so you won't get hurt, memorizing routes, using a white cane, mastering a brailler for homework, plus confronting what you now won't ever have, such as a driver's license. If you've never thought about what being blind could mean, this novel provides tremendous, well-researched details to ponder.

Positive Messages

When a tragedy strikes and your life seems hopeless, it's possible to adjust, accept, and find new hope and meaning in your altered life.

Positive Role Models & Representations

At first Emma, understandably, wallows in self-pity and anger. But gradually she grows in maturity and acceptance, bravely faces her new world, and tries to help the teen group bring closure to a town tragedy, as well as help an ill child. Logan is a devoted and caring friend helping Emma wherever she needs to be at all times. 


There's the accident that blinds Emma: a July Fourth rocket misfires. There's also the offstage death that leaves a teen dead in the lake -- an apparent suicide. 


There is much discussion of sex but no actual scenes. There's some romantic kissing.


Infrequent swearing, including "hell," "bulls--t," "a--hole," "f--k," "f--king," and "Jesus." 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The drinking is primarily of wine. Some of the characters smoke. Drugs are referred to as a possible explanation for the drowning.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Rachel DeWoskin's Blind is about a 15-year-old girl named Emma whose world changes in an instant when she's blinded by a Fourth of July rocket that misfires. Emma's reclusive after the accident but becomes re-engaged with life after a friend is found dead in a lake, an apparent suicide, and she gathers her crowd to figure out what happened and why. There's teen drinking, a few swear words ("hell," "bulls--t," "a--hole," "f--k," "Jesus"), and mentions of casual sex. This is DeWoskin's first young adult book, but in 2012 her novel Big Girl Small won an American Library Association Alex Award, which honors books written for adults that have special appeal to teens.

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What's the story?

On the Fourth of July, a rocket misfires and Emma is blinded. She now has to confront the reality of permanent blindness and must relearn everything. Trying to cross the street becomes a major challenge, and trying to recover her life seems impossible. Right after the accident, a member of her social crowd is found dead in the lake, an apparent suicide. As Emma gains confidence, she gathers some classmates to figure out what happened, and she befriends a young child who's also blind. Emma slowly realizes that she does have a life to live -- a different one, to be sure, but one worth living.

Is it any good?

The first third of BLIND, in which Emma is furious at the world, drags as she goes through being what she calls the "poor blind kid." However, this portion is filled with well-researched details (author Rachel DeWoskin learned braille and conducted research at the Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired) and gives readers an understanding of all she has to deal with in her new reality. 

Once the plot kicks in and Emma gains enough self-confidence to stop hiding from the world, she organizes a meeting of the kids from her high school to discuss their friend's drowning. The novel is compassionate and often compelling.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about famous people who have met the challenges of a disability and made significant achievements in the world. Research information on Helen Keller, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Stephen Hawking, Stevie Wonder, for starters.

  • How does the author convey what it's like to be blind? 

  • With a friend, do a guided blind walk. One person wears the blindfold (a scarf will do), and the other guides him or her to explore the environment noticing smells, textures, and sounds -- a world without sight. Be sure to keep the person safe, but try not to talk. After 10 minutes, switch roles. How did you feel sensing the world around you without eyes to see?  

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love coming-of-age stories and characters with disabilities

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