What happens when you wake from a terrible nightmare only to discover it was not a dream at all, but the rest of your life? Emma is fifteen when a Fourth of July fireworks rocket explodes backwards, burning her eyes and blinding her. Emma spends the next two years locked inside herself, viewing everything from her “poor blind kid” perspective as she learns to survive, blind, in the “sighted” world.
Author Rachel DeWoskin does an excellent job of portraying Emma’s raw emotions, her frustrations, fears, and overwhelming sense of loss; never to see her sisters, brother or parents, never to drive a car, worrying she’d never find anyone who’d want to marry or even kiss her with her scarred eyes.
Emma is so obsessed with her unfair fate, she loses “sight” of the support she is getting from her best friend, her family, and even her teachers as she transitions from the Briarly School for the Blind, where she spent the first year after the accident, back to her hometown high school. Shortly after her return, a new complication arises. Claire, one of Emma’s classmates, is found dead, the victim of an apparent suicide. Emma tries to make sense of Claire’s death while attempting to understand the meaning of her own life of darkness.
DeWoskin takes a long time to lead us through Emma’s depression and self-pity, but eventually we see Emma grow and change. Emma gathers a group of teens and leads discussions with them about what happened to Claire, and those discussions expand beyond one girl’s tragic death to bring hope and meaning to life and to living. Emma emerges from her self-imposed cocoon of darkness to feel the beauty of the world surrounding her.
Blind is recommended for ages 12 and up. Parents should be aware that offensive language is sprinkled throughout the book. The story starts slowly, but once the pace picks up, it is an interesting and fast-paced read, complete with a resounding message of hope and a positive, satisfying ending.
Marcia Berneger is a retired teacher who lives with her husband and three crazy dogs. She taught both first and second grade, as well as special education. She currently teaches Torah school, in addition to her volunteer work in classrooms, libraries, and with various fundraisers. She lives in San Diego.