Book Review: ‘Blind’ by Rachel DeWoskin

Blind by Rachel DeWoskinWhen Emma Sasha Silver loses her eyesight in a nightmare accident, she must relearn everything from walking across the street to recognizing her own sisters to imagining colors. One of seven children, Emma used to be the invisible kid, but now it seems everyone is watching her. And just as she’s about to start high school and try to recover her friendships and former life, one of her classmates is found dead in an apparent suicide. Fifteen and blind, Emma has to untangle what happened and why—in order to see for herself what makes life worth living.

It never really hit me how diverse a book like Blind is. When first starting it, I knew it was about a blind girl, but I was still so unprepared for what that meant; what it meant for a girl Emma’s age; what it would mean for any of us, given the circumstances; and what it means for YA literature. The last time I recalled reading a novel that featured a blind character was Neal Shusterman’s The Schwa Was Here, and although it wasn’t the protagonist without sight–like it is in DeWoksin’s Blind–it was still refreshing to see something not normally written in YA and really, in literature in general. And that’s diversity: disability, unique family dynamics, etc. While reading the novel, I started to wonder how literature treated disability and how authors did, and although there isn’t much literature out there about it, I was glad Blind stood out so well.

Yes, this novel is about how one girl’s disability completely changed her life, but ultimately it is a coming-of-age story. The exploration of change, feeling like no one understands you, asking questions that are impossible to answer; jealousy, growing apart, growing up, etc. “The mystery of growing up,” if we’re going to be technical, considering much of the novel focuses on many characters trying to figure out why another character committed suicide. But it also delves into the mystery of human stability. Why do we continue on? What is our purpose? Will anyone love us? For our protagonist, Emma, this is all too real. Being a blind girl after a freak accident, will anyone see the real her? The one who doesn’t need all the help. The one who wants to fall in love one day, work one day, be normal one day?  No pun intended, but this book definitely opens up your eyes. It makes you realize how much we take for granted, and how, although disability can be traumatic and life-changing, it is not the end.

What I found most encouraging about the novel was the firm support throughout. At first, we see the support of Emma’s parents, which I loved. I loved seeing how Emma’s parents weren’t just background characters or changed now that they had a daughter with a disability. I loved how they were there for her. Many times in YA, parents aren’t the best characters for our protagonist, or they have no presence whatsoever. But Emma’s parents aren’t like that. Despite having so many kids, you couldn’t help but know Emma was in a protective, loving home long before her accident. Although her parents did become extra cautious, they weren’t overbearing. They were understanding. And, wow, it seems like we definitely don’t have enough of that in YA sometimes. Outside her parents’ support, there were many other forms of support throughout. There’s Emma’s best friend, Logan, for starters. She was there almost beginning to end and didn’t treat Emma differently because of her accident. Although there were a few points of betrayal, I loved how their relationship was kept intact. I loved how Emma could get over the bumps in the road: and not the ones that dealt with her accident. Additionally, Emma basically organizes a whole group of students from school to talk about Claire, an old friend who committed suicide. I found this very realistic. The dialogue between characters. The situation in general. Honestly, there wasn’t really anything I rolled my eyes at or found unrealistic. At points, the plot was overpacked and it was often hard to keep up with all the characters, despite how well DeWoskin wrote their unique personalities. There were just so many names it was hard not to get mixed up at points. But even though it was a bit overstuffed, its intentions were so well drawn that I wasn’t completely frustrated by this.

Overall, DeWoskin has written a unique novel about a unique and under-represented voice. Personally, I’d love to read what happens next in Emma’s story–or another character’s, such as Annabelle, because the idea of not being able to physically see but still having to navigate your way through life is a lesson we all ought to learn. To tune up our senses. To look at disability in a new light–not something crippling or existing to remind us of our own unscathed abilities, but to make us realize how alike we are–whether or not we or anyone can physically see it. We’re not so different, and much like Claire’s mysterious death, we may not understand why things happen the way they do, but it doesn’t mean you can’t unite and try to explore what you can while you can. And that’s what diverse literature does, right? It makes us explore. Wonder. Open our eyes. And Emma’s bravely told story will help you do just that.

Rating: 10/10


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