Recommended Reading Level: Ages 12 and up
Favorite Quote: “They say that right before you die your whole life flashes before you – a medley of your own personal greatest hits. Well then, I must be about to live, because events that haven’t happened yet are constantly pushing themselves into my head.”
― Emlyn Chand, Farsighted, 2011
Description: “Alex Kosmitoras’s life has never been easy. The only other student who will talk to him is the school bully, his parents are dead broke and insanely overprotective, and to complicate matters even more, he’s blind. Just when he thinks he’ll never have a shot at a normal life, an enticing new girl comes to their small Midwest town all the way from India. Simmi is smart, nice, and actually wants to be friends with Alex. Plus she smells like an Almond Joy bar. Sophomore year might not be so bad after all.
Unfortunately, Alex is in store for another new arrival–an unexpected and often embarrassing ability to “see” the future. Try as he may, Alex is unable to ignore his visions, especially when they suggest Simmi is in mortal danger. With the help of the mysterious psychic next door and friends who come bearing gifts of their own, Alex embarks on his journey to change the future.” Amazon
This book was wonderfully unexpected and truly one of a kind. My first introduction to author, Emlyn Chand, was through Twitter. We followed one another and I placed her novel in my TBR pile. Then, I stumbled upon the Orangeberry Book Tour, discovered Emlyn was participating, and eagerly scooped up a date to post a feature of Farsighted on my blog. This book could not have come at a more important time in my aspiring writing career. I am so thankful to have read Emlyn’s book sooner than later.
First, the sensory descriptions used throughout Farsighted are absolutely fantastic. I cannot even imagine the difficulty a writer faces when creating a main character that is blind. It has to be a major undertaking that takes extreme organization, focus, and creativity. While I have never read any other book where the main character was blind, I honestly feel that Emlyn Chand mastered this art of sensory description with the creation of her main character, Alex. Honestly, as I read, I thought, “WOW. This girl knows what she is doing.” Major props to Emlyn’s abilities as a writer and herself as a person for undertaking what could have been a terrible flop.
While reading, there was never a time when I thought, “Wait, isn’t Alex supposed to be blind?” I’m sure it’s easy to ‘slip-up’, especially when the writer, herself, is not blind. The hearing, smelling, and touching descriptions were consistent throughout the book.
One part that absolutely stood out to me was when Alex’s father informs him that his boots are scuffed and could use a new pair for his birthday. Alex is clearly bothered by the fact that he isn’t able to see where his boots are scuffed and in what condition they appear.
Second, aspects of this book made me cringe as a human being, a former teen who was once a classmate to kids with disabilities. I can clearly remember a boy, from my high school, who was blind. Although I never had a class with him, I can remember him clearly. I remember wondering what it was like to be in his position and how he managed to survive high school. I remember him maneuvering through the halls with his walking stick. However, I never did befriend him or even speak to him for that matter. In my defense, my graduating class consisted of over 600 kids, so there were many that I didn’t even know. But, I did notice this boy and sadly never made an effort to speak to him. I wish I had. Now that I’ve read Farsighted, and read the thoughts that a blind teen could realistically think, I wish I had made the effort. I am so sorry that I didn’t once acknowledge Brian, the boy who was blind, the boy who was brave.
Third, this book is written in the present tense. I loved this. When I first began writing my young adult novel, I wrote it in the present tense. For my main character, Samara, everything was happening right then and there and I was experiencing it all right along with her. And then, I started to second guess myself. I couldn’t remember reading a novel narrated in the first person, present tense. What was I doing? So, I started to change it to the first person, past tense. I then shelved it for a few weeks because I wasn’t happy with the change. And then, I read Farsighted and my entire world was turned upside down. Emlyn had written her novel this way, so what was stopping me? Nothing. It was a wonderful and welcoming discovery. Thank you, Emlyn Chand, for returning my confidence to me.
Finally, the story is very well-paced and super easy to breeze right through. I was able to read the book in one day. I loved that aspect about Farsighted. Nothing seemed rushed; every aspect of the story (plot, details, etc.) fell into place perfectly.
In conclusion, this book was an inspiring read for me. Not only did it force me to reevaluate myself as a writer, it forced me to reevaluate myself as a person and as a parent. Farsighted tackles the topic of bullying with dignity. Although I did not bully others in school, and I was often made fun of for being the shortest kid in my class, I still ignored various kids that had disabilities. Today, I am a mom. I have two little boys. I don’t want them to act the way I did as a teen in regards to classmates with disabilities. I want them to embrace these kids and support them, not ignore them.
**If you are interested in reading this wonderfully written novel, please know that five percent of all proceeds from paperback, hardcover, and eBook sales of books in the Farsighted series is donated to the Seedlings Braille Books for Children, a non-profit organization. Seedlings is “dedicated to providing high quality, low-cost braille books for blind children in Michigan and around the world”. Also, a ten-dollar donation will be made to the Seedlings organization every time a braille edition of Farsighted is purchased (braille edition of Farsighted will be available for purchase via Seedlings in fall 2012).**
For further information or to make a donation, please contact the Seedlings organization at:
P.O. Box 51924
Livonia, MI 48151-5924