A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Encourages empathy by giving details about what blindness is like, especially things sighted people would never think of. Explains neuroplasticity, what the visual cortex does in people born without sight, and some art history including the difference between realism and impressionism. Some facts about a surgical procedure to give sight to people who are blind; the success rate; and the mental, physical, and emotional effects of the surgery on patients. Author's note explains research into visual impairment and real-life basis for some characters and events in the book.
Sometimes you have to rely on others, and that can be risky. But trying to be completely independent gets lonely. Life is better when you have friends and loved ones to share things with. Race shouldn't be such a big deal given that people have so much more in common than they have differences.
Positive Role Models
Will wants to learn how to make his way in the real world, so he leaves the sheltered school for people with visual impairments and goes to "mainstream" school. He's smart and brave, and he makes friends and learns from his mistakes. Love interest Cecily is also smart and brave. Cecily and Will's friends model being helpful without seeming like they feel sorry for Will. Will's mother is a bit overprotective, but his family environment is loving and supportive.
Violence & Scariness
Cecily mentions being bullied in the past. Some kids call her a mean nickname she's had since grade school. Will describes feelings of rage and tries to punch the name-callers. He misses but slams himself into some lockers and gets knocked flat on his back.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
One kiss, emotions, and tingling sensations briefly described. A teen mentions he'd like to be a plastic surgeon so he could "play with boobs all day." Will notices his feelings of attraction to Cecily and wants to kiss her.
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Name calling: "d--k," "douche." Also "boobs," "butt," "sucks," "suckitude," "bitches," "ass," "pooping" and "taking a dump."
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Products & Purchases
Doritos and Skittles teach Will about shapes and colors. Will mentions good and bad things about Teslas.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Will feels good from anesthesia when surgery is about to start. In recovery from surgery, he thinks pain meds are great and that he should have surgery more often.
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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.
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.
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