As my first 2017 book, let me tell you that as I read more and more books that release this year, it’s going to take a lot for them to grab me the way that this one did. Why? It’s simple.
Love and First Sight is perfection.
Seriously. This book is incredible. It’s everything that makes a YA contemporary amazing, from character depth and personality to an amazing plot to a slow burn romance that takes you on an emotional roller coaster. Couple that with plenty of humor, a witty main character, and a story full of pain, hope, and love, and you have the perfect YA contemporary. How perfect? I read it in one sitting. I laughed. I cried. I wanted more when it was over, despite the absolutely fantastic ending that wrapped everything up nicely, and added a little bow on top just to show off (and it deserves to show off, too). Yes, this book has all the elements that I just love all in one novel – along with a catchy title and a simple yet impressive cover.
Will Porter was born blind. He’s never seen colors, faces, or places, and he has been just fine with that. He’s accepted it. Sure, he’s always wanted to have the chance to see, but he figured that his life is pretty good, so he accepts the fact that he is blind. In fact, he wants to learn to to be more independent, so he leaves the special blind boarding school he goes to and goes to a mainstream high school, where he can start fresh. His witty personality helps keep him afloat and diffuse any tension that seems to crop up, and he believes that he is doing just fine.
“That’s what a white cane will do for you: Not only can you get away with copping a feel, the girl assumed it was her fault and apologizes for it. Let me assure you, random girl, you have nothing to be sorry about. Completely my fault. Any my pleasure.”
While he does have a bit of a run-in on his first day, when a girl in his English class, Cecily, thinks he is staring at her, he manages to make friends with a group of kids, including Cecily. He hangs out with them, attends his classes, plays games, and has a pretty decent family life, as well. And then one day, he has a decision to make: his parents have learned of an experimental surgery that might give him the chance to see again, and he has to choose whether or not it’s something that he would be interested in.
Will spends time thinking it over, including the pros and cons of the surgery, he hangs out with his friends, especially Cecily, and his family, who seem to be divided on the issue of the treatment. His mother thinks he should go for it, while his father wants Will to consider the negatives – including that he might not be getting exactly what he is hoping for, even if the surgery does work out.
“The truth is, I’ve always wanted eyesight. I mean, obviously. I’d love to be able to see. It’s not like I’m unhappy with myself the way I am or bitter about being blind or anything. I get along all right. I’m find with who I am.
But if there’s a chance I could gain eyesight, I mean, come on.”
When Will does decide on having the surgery, things are more difficult than he anticipated – he essentially has to learn everything all over again, only with a different sense. It’s confusing, it’s difficult, and it gets frustrating as can be at times, but Will has a great support system with his family, friends, and especially Cecily.
Will spends more and more time with Cecily, even outside of school projects when the two of them don’t actually have to spend time together. In fact, Will finds himself really falling for Cecily, and while he doesn’t exactly want a girlfriend right now, he can’t help his feelings for her.
However, when he starts seeing faces, he notices something about Cecily – while his friends all told him she was beautiful, something about Cecily is different, and he starts to realize that maybe his friends lied to him about her. Feeling betrayed, Will reconsiders being with Cecily, and in fact, stops talking to her altogether. He feels like she took advantage of his blindness and didn’t tell him something about her that everyone else could see. But when Will realizes that he is brokenhearted over losing Cecily, he reconsiders staying away from her and tries to make amends with this girl that he simply can’t be without.
The main story, which is Will getting eyesight through a surgery and learning to see, is about fifty percent of the book, while the other fifty percent is the sweet love story that happens between Will and Cecily. The two are intertwined to make one deep and emotional novel, and while combining two major assets like this can sometimes ruin a book, it was done very well in Love and First Sight. The romance between the two started off very slowly and built up, and thankfully, there wasn’t any insta-love going on here. In fact, this romance is definitely the swoon-worthy kind that you find yourself immersed in and wanting more.
“My understanding is that people usually close their eyes just before contact is made, which makes kissing the closest Cecily and I can ever come to having an identical shared experience: both of us feeling our lips touch, both doing so without sight.”
Will’s character is funny, but under that, you can tell that he is really struggling with whether or not he should get the surgery, and once he does, his frustration is apparent when it doesn’t live up to his expectations at first. He gets angry, he gets depressed, but through it all, he keeps working toward his goal.
I thought he kind of blew the whole thing with Cecily’s appearance out of proportion, but at the same time, it wasn’t her looks he was upset about, but rather the fact that Cecily didn’t mention a part of her that she was bullied because of and had to spend her life living with. While Cecily knew that Will was blind, she failed to mention what she considered her biggest flaw, and that upset him. I could completely understand that.
When Will decides that he can’t live without Cecily and he wants her back, he is willing to do anything he can to make that happen.
Love and First Sight is sweet, heartfelt, and will definitely make you need to bring a box of tissues along for the ride. Once you start reading this, you won’t be able to put it down. Will’s narration coupled with an engaging story makes this a YA contemporary that you won’t want to miss out on.