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Publishers Weekly Review
As Emma, the protagonist in adult writer DeWoskin's profound YA debut, knows, "we're all only a half-second disaster, mistake, or choice away from being changed forever." At the start of Emma's freshman year, she loses her sight in a freak accident. Despite help and support from her parents, six siblings, best friend Logan, and classmates at Briarly-a school for the blind Emma attends before she "mainstreams" back to her local high school-Emma wants to curl up and die. But when Claire, a friend from her "old life," kills herself by swallowing a cocktail of painkillers and drowning, Emma rethinks her "PBK" (poor blind kid) attitude and her approach to recovery. While writing the book, DeWoskin learned Braille at the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind, and her sensitivity to details (comparing characters' voices to smells, textures, and colors; describing conflicted reactions to Emma's blindness) shows. By using Claire's death as a counterpoint to Emma's misfortune-one chosen, the other inflicted-DeWoskin enables her characters and readers to put tragedy into perspective. Ages 12-up. Agent: Jill Grinberg, Grinberg Literary Management. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Review
Gr 7 Up-When Emma Sasha Silver was struck blind, it was devastating. It changed her life and the lives of her family members forever. As Emma slowly accepted her fate, her family's life suddenly revolved around her, as all pitched in to accommodate her needs. After a semester at a school for the blind, Emma returns to her local high school with much help from her best friend, Logan. Emma struggles with believing her own life is hopeless, until she considers what drove her classmate Claire to suicide. While she struggles with new attitudes and relationships, Emma gains strength and an outward focus. Annalie Gernert skillfully handles Emma's first-person narration, as well as develops distinctive voices for other key characters. In spite of the abundance of profanity, this story would be inspiring to all students, especially victims of life-changing accidents.-Ann Weber, Bellarmine College Preparatory, San Jose, CA. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
DeWoskin, author of the Alex Award winner Big Girl Small (2011), skillfully balances the pain of loss with the promise of new experiences and discovery in her YA debut. Emma's challenges keep mounting: an accident robs her of her sight and, with it, the opportunity to go back to her high school, see her new baby sister, and connect with her friends. Just as she begins to step back into the wider world after a semester at a school for the blind, she is shocked by the tragic death of a classmate and begins to question life's meaning. Readers can be forgiven for thinking that this death may tilt the novel toward a whodunit, but Emma's questing reaches far deeper than mere mystery. The life of a formerly sighted teen blossoms in Emma's strong voice as she explores the world, conquers fears, and attempts living everyday life again with her large, bustling, Jewish suburban family. A gracefully written, memorable, and enlightening novel.--Howerton, Erin Downey Copyright 2014 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
With traces of John Greens Looking for Alaska (2005), DeWoskins first teen novel explores death and darkness.Blinded in a fireworks accident, Emma Silver has finally learned to find shorelines with her white cane and identify her six wildly different siblings by their breathing. Her rehabilitation is meticulously described, from learning to decipher braille to containing her panic. Shes spent a year shed rather forget at the Briarly School for the Blind trying not to be a poor blind kid and finds the world has changed again upon return to her insular hometown: Claire Montgomery, a former classmate, is found drowned in an apparent suicide. As much to explore her fears after blindness as to talk about Claires death, she leads a group of somewhat two-dimensional classmates in philosophical discussions but feelsliterally and figurativelyher best friend growing distant. Emmas poetic, sensory narration heightens the typical teen angst of sex, cliques and growing apart. Flashbacks to her year at Briarly flesh out her frustration and fear of embracing a blind identity while raising hopes of an active life as a blind person. Her increasing bravery parallels new understanding of her siblings and friends, and here the disability-as-metaphor trope actually worksGoing blind is a little bit like growing up.A vivid, sensory tour of the shifting landscapes of blindness and teen relationships. (Fiction. 14-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.