A Blind Spot For Boys by Justina Chen
Little, Brown BYR, 336 pages
US Release Date: August 12, 2014
Format/Source: ARC via Around the World Tours - thank you!
Shana has always had a blind spot for boys. Can she trust the one who's right in front of her?
Sixteen-year-old Shana Wilde is officially on a Boy Moratorium. After a devastating breakup, she decides it's time to end the plague of Mr. Wrong, Wrong, and More Wrong.
Enter Quattro, the undeniably cute lacrosse player who slams into Shana one morning in Seattle. Sparks don't just fly; they ignite. And so does Shana's interest. Right as she's about to rethink her ban on boys, she receives crushing news: Her dad is going blind. Quattro is quickly forgotten, and Shana and her parents vow to make the most of the time her father has left to see. So they travel to Machu Picchu, and as they begin their trek, they run into none other than Quattro himself. But even as the trip unites them, Quattro pulls away mysteriously... Love and loss, humor and heartbreak collide in this new novel from acclaimed author Justina Chen.
"…I was holding out for true love. Anything less than that just seemed to make sex meaningless. And I, for one, did not want to be meaningless to anybody."
While I don’t think A Blind Spot For Boys is the most original or best contemporary novel out there, this is one of the highest compliments I can give a book: A Blind Spot For Boys made me consider my life and the relationships in my life and how I approach them; and it made me take action in bettering and purging some negativity. And there isn’t much more praise I can give a book that strikes me so deeply and affects me so much that I actually alter my own real life because of it.
A Blind Spot For Boys is a strange mix of being cliché and original. I’ve not really seen a book take on the tragedy of a parent losing his vision, and I thought it was a refreshing (for lack of a better word) spin on the family woes. That was an element that really made me consider how lucky myself and family is, and I started to project wondering how I would feel if that was happening to someone I love.
But then the insta-attraction of how she met Quattro, and how he kept popping up, and how he was just so imperfectly perfect. Or that Shana was just that hot girl who couldn’t help flirting…it made her a little hard for me to like. And I’m not saying there aren’t people like that—I’ve been told on occasion I’m like that—but there was an arrogance in her that I wasn’t fond of. And then he kept popping up at just the right time…it was a bit predictable.
That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, though. I really loved Quattro, and I liked him and Shana together. I didn’t buy into their Boy/Girl Moratoriums, but it’s a fun element nonetheless. I thought the development of their friendship into a maybe-relationship was at a great, realistic pace, and I supported a lot of it.
I was a little back-and-forth about Shana not being able to let go of a 6-week relationship. On one hand, I understand—at that age, anyone who you care for who cares for you back for a day is The World to you, and it takes heartbreak nine times over to get it when it goes away. But the more we discover about this relationship, the less I liked it—I found very little for her to cling to. I’m not saying we’re all sane in love (at 16 or 60), but as a reader, I needed something to connect to and understand why it was so hard for her to let go. And I never got that.
However, my favourite element was definitely all the other hikers on the trip—even the crappy gamer husband. They definitely saved this story from falling into just a cliché contemporary book about two people finding each other and getting past their past. Each of the secondary characters were so unique and fun, I couldn’t help but adore them. And when they were all interacting together…it was so great, and I felt like I was right there struggling up the trails with them. My heart jumped, my face couldn’t stop smiling, I felt like I had their backpacks and burdens on my back.
And I have to admit, the family element was a nice surprise. Not that it was there, since it’s pretty obvious it will be—but the struggle of watching a parent couple keep it together and face a new tragedy together. And her brothers, who are a small part but no less important…it was nice to see a functional family that had their own problems. Not to the extent of calling them dysfunctional, but the average struggles exacerbated by an unusual circumstance. It reminds me a lot of my own family, and it was good to see it in a young adult novel.
A Blind Spot For Boys could have lost me and a lot of readers to a cliché, but its original elements really stand out and make this book so much more than it seems. And while I won’t list it among my favourites, I will say there are parts that really yanked at my heart and made me rethink my own life against it. And that’s as high a compliment I can give.