Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The perfect timing of A Blind Spot for Boys by Justina Chen

Sometimes a book just comes into your life at the perfect time. A Blind Spot for Boys is possibly the oddest occurrence of this phenomenon for me.

Since her traumatic relationship with Dom ended Shana Wilde has earned a rep as a heartbreaker. Finally she’s decided to take a moratorium on boys until she can sort out her feelings. Which, of course, is when she meets Quattro, a cute, smart, and stylish boy, as she’s capturing a photo of Seattle’s Gum Wall. Before she can explore even the possibility of their potential relationship her home life explodes: Her father learns that he’s losing his sight. The family decides to take one last epic adventure while he has some vision remaining. Shana and her parents will start with a Dreamwalk, hiking the Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu, then she’ll fly home and each of her brothers will take another leg of the adventure with their parents. It will be the trip of a lifetime.

But in Peru Shana’s parents turn into people she doesn’t know. Her mother becomes indecisive and hovers protectively around her grouchy, petulant, standoffish husband. Meanwhile Shana runs into Quattro and his father, who are doing their own Inca Trail hike. Quattro is blowing hot and cold, one minute flirtatious and the next obviously keeping his distance. Shana, confused and hurt, decides to keep their relationship at a friendship. But a lot can happen on a days-long hike through the wilderness, especially when a flash flood and mudslide strip away the hikers’ outer veneer of civility.

A Blind Spot for Boys is a realistic, romantic fiction novel for teens with multiple plotlines. On one hand a teenage girl is recovering from an abusive relationship and learning lessons about life and love from the people around her. On the other, a family tragedy forces a couple and their children deal with an uncertain future. For me this novel also had a third plot – the Inca Trail whittled these trekkers down to the essence of themselves and made them confront who they really were. Some were strengthened by the experience. Others were broken by it.

And here’s where we come to why this novel was so opportune: just weeks before reading this book my husband and I tentatively planned an Inca Trail hike of our own. Now I’m even more excited about our upcoming trip. I just wish Stesha could be our guide.

Chen, Jennifer. A Blind Spot for Boys. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2014. 4 stars.

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