A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Love and First Sight, by YouTube personality Josh Sundquist (We Should Hang Out Sometime: Embarrassingly, a True Story), is a novel about Will, a blind boy who at 16 decides to leave his sheltered private school and enter mainstream public school. It'll encourage empathy because it shows a lot of surprising things about not being able to see. One violent incident is mild, but Will describes his feelings of rage. There's one kiss and a few brief descriptions of feeling attracted to someone. Strong language is rare but includes "d--k," "bitches," and "ass." Messages and role models are positive, and it asks good questions about friendship, honesty, independence, tough choices, and what's important. The content's fine for most tweens and up, but the older-teen characters and issues will probably be enjoyed best by seventh- and eighth-graders and up.
What's the story?
In LOVE AND FIRST SIGHT, 16-year-old Will, who was born blind, has lived a pretty sheltered life. He's always been safe and comfortable with the community of people with visual impairments. He wants to be a journalist when he grows up, but he knows that he'll never achieve that goal unless he learns how to function in the "real world." So he starts his junior year in a mainstream school, where he'll have to learn a lot -- more than where his classrooms are -- if he wants to make it. His doctor tells him he might be a candidate for a rare surgery that could give him vision, just like everyone else. There's no guarantee the operation will work, but if it did, what would that do to his new friendships and the stronger feelings he's starting to notice for his classmate Cecily? It could change everything. So how can Will know if it's worth the risk or not?
Is it any good?
Josh Sundquist takes a turn from his memoir to write a lively, engaging novel with lots of appeal for fans and newcomers. There's a lot to admire about Love and First Sight narrator Will, who's brave enough to push himself outside his comfort zone. That's an important skill for everyone to have and even more so for someone who's blind from birth.
There are many specific details about dealing with visual impairment, but Will also deals with lots of things any teen can relate to. They'll find Will easy to root for. The big changes in his life, and the tough decisions he faces, keep the pages turning. The mystery surrounding Cecily is easy to figure out and a disappointing cliché. Still, there's plenty to admire about the story and characters, making Love and First Sight a feel-good choice for a wide audience.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about living with visual impairment or blindness. Was there anything that surprised you about Will or about his life?
Did you read the author's memoir, We Should Hang Out Sometime? What's the difference between a memoir and a novel? Which do you like better, or do you like both?
If you met someone who couldn't see you, what would you tell them about yourself?
- Author: Josh Sundquist
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Friendship, High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
- Publication date: January 3, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 288
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.