Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Blindsided by Priscilla Cummings

Natalie O'Reilly was born without irises, making her susceptible to juvenile glaucoma, which destroyed her vision. For years now, Natalie's eyesight has slowly worsened, first losing her ability to see color, and then her field of vision shrinking to a small circle. She is now a high school sophomore, and her doctor has told her to prepare herself to lose her sight completely. Natalie is sent to a school for the blind in Baltimore, to learn Braille and how to use a cane, among other things. Natalie resists; she doesn't need these skills, she's not blind. But Natalie's resistance to learning how to be independent as a person without vision is only making her more and more scared of the world.

Well done. I enjoyed this. I let my toast burn because I was reading and forgot about it. Natalie was very honest. She was absolutely terrified, in denial, lashed out at people who were trying to help her, cried, had a hard time accepting the "someone out there is worse off then you". She felt like a real kid. There was no sick/disabled kid as wise prophet. Just a 14 year-old scared out of her mind that she's losing her sight. Nice job. I really appreciated the willingness to make the main character flawed in a realistic way, without making her so unpleasant we don't care about her. It made her so much more relatable.

There was a fair bit of really obvious set up. As Chekhov said, "If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired." Which I don't necessarily agree with, Mr. Chekhov, but Cummings certainly did. We saw the gun in the first act. Natalie and her parents lives on a goat farm. Her father shows her where the gun in the barn is and follows it up with, "I hope you never have to use it." Well. It's only a matter of time then, isn't it? And when at school Natalie and the other girls are learning self defense so they won't be easy targets she thinks, "I'm never going to have to use this." Oh Natalie, you silly, silly girl. Just wait a couple of chapters because I bet you anything you're totally going to have to use it.

There was one scene that didn't ring true for me. One of the times Natalie visits home after she's lost her sight completely, she and her friend Merideth go to the mall. Natalie still doesn't want to use her cane out in public, so she hold on to Merideth's arm and Merideth guides her along. They're having a grand old time until a boy starts taunting them, calling them lesbians. They're both upset and go home. Afterward, Natalie is thinking, "Did that boy really think we were lesbians?" It was weird. Why was that there? What was the purpose? It didn't do anything. It was sort of awkward and left me confused. Easily could have cut that scene and we would have lost nothing.

Blindsided came out on July 8th.

1 comment:

  1. The taut story line with its switching locations and superb characterizations are so well written, it will blind-side the sub-genre by turning it into a new direction. The story line is fast-paced while Mr. Phillips' magically switches locales in an effortlessly manner that actually propels the plot forward. However, it is the humanization of the characters, who grow as they learn from their errors, that turns this thriller into a mega-chiller. Readers of BLINDSIDED will be obsessed to read Clyde Phillips' previous novels.


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