Blindness has always been an interesting concept for teens of these days, and in Priscilla Cummings’ book Blindsided, we get a bit of insight into the world of 14-year-old Natalie O’Reilly, a girl who was diagnosed with glaucoma at a young age. Despite her being diagnosed so young, Natalie has been doing her best to avoid going to a school for the blind. As she says, it would be admitting that she might lose her sight completely. She receives devastating news when her doctor tells her that she will most likely completely lose her sight soon. Natalie’s parent’s decide that she has to go to a school for the blind before it’s too late. That’s where Natalie meets another girl by the name of Serena, who becomes one of her closer friends. Serena, like Natalie, isn’t completely blind, but it is likely that she will be. Serena however, is prepared for it, and is ready to be blind. She’s come to terms with the fact that she will probably never really be able to see well, unlike Natalie who still clings to her sight. Another girl that Natalie meets at the school is Bree, a young girl very much like Natalie, if not more. Bree however, lost her sight in some kind of accident, and has no sight at all. Still, Bree eventually warms to the kids at the blind school like Natalie, as they begin to learn what they must do to survive in a world that is not entirely friendly to blind people. There are several conflicts throughout the book, including those of Natalie and Bree being unable to accept the loss of sight. Natalie also faces losing her independence, fitting in among her old friends now that she has to carry a cane or hold their arm to walk around. Another is the conflict with her parents. Her father especially is unwilling to admit that his daughter can’t do the same things that she used to do. By the end of the story though, Natalie has achieved a peace with these conflicts as she’s faced them, including her biggest trouble of learning not to live scared.
This book is actually very well written. I get the feeling that Cummings knows more about blindness than most people. Through her use of imagery and emotional details, each reader is able to truly get inside Natalie’s head and see what she is going through. It can help those who don’t understand blind people see them as people and understand how they can help them. In personal reflection about the book, I find that most things I thought about blind people are actually wrong, and many myths about blinds are also untrue. I got a very in depth idea of Natalie’s emotions as she received the news that she would probably lose her sight. All-in-all, I believe that Blindsided is a very good read, especially for teenagers, but I would suggest it to an adult any day as well.
Review by Kayleen Mangum, Cyprus High School
Rating: 5 Stars
Interest Level: Grades 11-12
Written by Priscilla Cummings
Dutton / Penguin Group
Release Date: Jul. 8, 2010