Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Blind Spot for Boys by Justina Chen

Sixteen-year-old Shana Wilde is left to pick up the pieces after Dom, a handsome college boy, shatters her heart. Instead of mourning her loss and moving on, she decides to "do unto others as has been done unto her." She becomes a jaded serial dater, showing no mercy with a trail of broken hearts left in her wake. She's perfected the game until a chance encounter brings her face-to-face with Quattro, an enigmatic lacrosse player whose attraction is unsettling. Just as she begins to rethink her boy moratorium, her family is dealt a blow: Shana's father is going blind.

With the loss of her father's vision, Shana's family finally decides to go on their dream vacation since it will be their last chance. The first leg of the trip includes hiking Machu Picchu where Shana runs into none other that Quattro. Unfortunately, as Shana begins to lower her walls, Quattro seems to reinforce his by pushing her away. As the trek up the mountain intensifies, and mudslides threaten to take lives, Shana learns that loss is inevitable; however, little stolen moments are worth the pain.

One reviewer criticized this novel as being cliche and lacking depth of plot. Maybe. At the same time, Shana symbolizes the emotions and fears that many adolescent young women feel after a particularly traumatic breakup. Any time someone makes herself vulnerable to another, it's extremely scary that rejection might be looming. As a result, this novel is a rite of passage for Shana, but it's also a rite of passage for many of the other characters: 

Quattro: He must come to terms with his mother's death.
Shana's Dad: He must come to terms with going blind in 90 days.
Grace: She must grieve the loss of her husband and learn to live again.
Helen: She must reevaluate the love of a man who saves himself and leaves her to die.

This novel incorporates sarcasm and humor to address the age-old conflict of love and trust. Although Shana and Quattro are the focus, secondary characters show the multifaceted nature of love as well as obstacles that make us second-guess ourselves.