Roz Hart has macular degeneration, but she’s worked hard to not let it take over her life. She’s always been an honors student, so when she gets put in the special ed “Life Skills” class, she’s pretty pissed. To make matters worse, her partner in that class is the drug-addled Tricia, who is super annoying but also seems to latch onto Roz. When Tricia disappears and her body shows up in the river six months later, Roz is upset. She argued with Tricia the night she disappeared, but she doesn’t remember why. In fact, there are a lot of gaps in her memory of that night. Did she have something to do with Tricia’s disappearance? And was Tricia murdered?
Readers expecting a straight-up murder mystery should look elsewhere. Laura Ellen’s twisty suspense novel offers up tons of different issues for readers to sink their teeth into, and does so with varying degrees of success. An authentic narrator, and interesting premise, and interesting insight into what it’s like to live with macular degeneration makes this one stick out from others in the genre.
The book’s strongest point is Roz as a narrator. She’s incredibly appealing, and her first-person narration keep the plot moving, even when it starts to get bogged down in its many issues. Her experiences with macular degeneration and the coping mechanisms she’s developed to deal with her failing eyesight are handled sensitively. Also worth noting is how authentic and sympathetic Roz is as a character: she feels a myriad of emotions about her situation, and all of these feelings are legitimate.
What doesn’t work so much are the secondary characters. None of them are particularly well drawn, falling into flat stereotypes (Jonathan, Tricia, even) or being outright preposterous. Mr. Dellian is completely unbelievable as an educator, but I suppose he does make for a good antagonist, even if it’s all a little too much.
Combine the flat secondary characters with the fact that the plot has too much going on, and you have an interesting premise with a messy execution. Still, readers who latch onto Roz’s character will find this an interesting read.
Blind Spot by Laura Ellen. Harcourt Children’s Books: 2013. Library copy read for the 2013 Cybils.