Miss Riki’s Review:
Emma’s life is forever changed one night at a 4th of July fireworks show. One minute she is celebrating with her family, and the next she is disfigured when a rocket backfires into the crowd, leaving her blind. After the accident, she grapples with everyday life, trying to make systems and find a way to go on living. How can she live with the idea that she will never see her beloved sibling’s faces again, or that she might never fall in love and be kissed? After a year at a special school for the blind, she returns to mainstream high school with her old friends by her side. Emma slowly finds her way as she compares her own life to another senseless small-town tragedy that affects her close-knit family and friends.
This was an absolutely engaging and unique story. It was heartbreaking to watch Emma struggle with the initial consequences of her blindness, yet also intriguing to see the systems she and her family put in place to help her succeed in living a normal life. DeWoskin has done a terrific job of researching the life of the blind, and the book is full of real-life scenarios and systems for those living with blindness.
What struck me as the most impressive in reading this novel was the language of Emma. Since the book is written in first-person through the eyes of someone who has lost her sight, the author is forced to explain the world in a totally new way. With this type of narration, she could not rely on the typical viewpoint of a first-person narrator. Instead, we “see” the world through Emma’s unique perspective, where what she cannot see through her eyes is described in colors and shapes. Words and voices take on new forms as Emma places them without her eyesight. Emma’s viewpoint is beautifully written, and I was captivated by her voice on the page.
The book does read a bit on the long side, clocking in at over 400 pages, but the writing is so beautiful that I was able to let some of the lag in plot points slide. There’s an intriguing secondary plot with the suicide of Emma’s classmate Claire that effectively allows Emma to view her own tragic circumstances through a new light.
This is a wonderful book that brilliantly depicts a diverse character with a disability. It is a valuable read not only for those interested in the world of the visually impaired, but also those who are looking for stories that depict characters who are different than the mainstream. Although Emma struggles with her new disability, she eventually finds her way and thrives despite her perceived limitations.