Sonntag, 14. Juni 2015

[English] Book Review: Blind (Rachel Dewoskin)

When Emma Sasha Silver loses her eyesight in a nightmare accident, she must relearn everything from walking across the street to recognizing her own sisters to imagining colors. One of seven children, Emma used to be the invisible kid, but now it seems everyone is watching her. And just as she's about to start high school and try to recover her friendships and former life, one of her classmates is found dead in an apparent suicide. Fifteen and blind, Emma has to untangle what happened and why - in order to see for herself what makes life worth living.

Unflinching in its portrayal of Emma's darkest days, yet full of hope and humor, Rachel DeWoskin's brilliant Blind is one of those rare books that utterly absorbs the listener into the life and experience of another.

Bought purely on a whim, this somewhat unimaginatively titled book by Rachel Dewoskin turned out to be a true gem in the literature featuring blind protagonists. In fiction, it's certainly my personal number one, and by quite a margin at that. What impressed me most about this book is its genuine approach to human nature. The world in which Emma lives may feel a little idealized from time to time. But her own story is not, and neither are the feelings and reactions of the people around her. Dewoskin dives deep into human nature, describing Emmas rage, her vrief, her temporary ignorance and self-absorbtion, and then her slow and rocky way back to herself, which is not the person she used to be, but something new and exciting. At the same time we learn about the people around her, her large family (six siblings), her parents, her friends and some other people in her life, and how her accident affected them and their relationship to Emma and to eachother.

Apart from that, Rachel Dewoskin displays an astonishing expertise in all things blindness-related, from knowing how TDL and O&M training work to understanding the challenges faced by communicating among blind people. And most importantly, she shows her readers again and again that living life as a blind person is a work in progress, and that things seemingly impossible today, by next week can feel perfectly normal.

This book can be a little tough at times, especially for people with a personal connection to the subject matter, but it's never insensitive, nor is it judgemental. And it's overall message is truly and genuinely positive - not by way of well-worn miracles, but simply by letting the reader accompany Emma on her way back to life, taking part in her successes and setbacks, in the things she loses and those she gains, and watching her become the person it seems she was supposed to be all along.

While reading this book, I couldn't help but wonder how it could benefit a person in a similar situation, for example a parent of a recently blinded child. My impression is that this book can be invaluable in understanding the psychology, the challenges and the impact that blindness has on people and their relationships - if that person is ready to face this amount of truth.

Finally, the audio book version is quite excellent. Annalie Gernert gives Emmas character, telling her own story, a genuine identity and seems to have found her own connection to the books heroine and her many faces and moods.

Blind by Rachel Dewoskin oat

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