A Blind Spot for Boys by Justina Chen
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
After a not-so-great relationship and heartbreak that followed, sixteen-year-old Shana has sworn off boys – until she meets Quattro, a guy who reminds her that it is possible to find a good one. But soon after the two meet, Shana learns that her dad is suffering from a disease that will take his sight in six months, and she decides to spend that time focusing on her family and her father’s health. She and her parents take a trip to Machu Picchu, something her dad has always dreamed of seeing, and she imagines this will be the trip of a lifetime, a chance to spend quality time with her family before her dad goes blind for good – until Quattro and his dad show up, too.
Justina Chen is the author of one of my favorite young adult books EVER, North of Beautiful (my review from 2009), so when I noticed a new book from Chen on my library’s shelves, I grabbed it right away. While I liked this book, I am thinking that my tastes may have changed in the past six years because while the two books have a lot of similar themes, I didn’t come close to loving Blind Spot for Boys like I loved North of Beautiful.
What did work for me in this book was the setting. I loved reading about the characters’ travels to Machu Picchu, a place I’d love to visit myself, and their journey actually turned out quite terrifying and dangerous. There were floods, mudslides, all kinds of scary stuff, and I liked how Chen gave the reader a look into what the residents of that area endured while their homes and lives were swept away in mud and water. It was sad stuff, and while it wasn’t the point of the story, it took the characters away from their own problems for a bit, which I appreciated.
I also liked how much Shana valued her relationships with her parents and brothers – a quality that you don’t see too often in YA fiction. Too often the YA books I read have the adults either too absent or too present in an annoying way. This book has the main character consciously spending time with her parents, who she loves and respects and cares deeply about. It was refreshing to see.
I liked the relationship between Shana and Quattro enough, but it didn’t have that spark that I was looking for. I wasn’t blown away by their chemistry and I didn’t care enough whether or not they got together in the end. I like how their relationship wasn’t the heart of the story, but it was still an important part of it, and it didn’t blow me away like I wanted it to.
In general, the book just didn’t wow me. Although I enjoyed reading it, not much set it apart from other, similar young adult novels I’ve read. It was good but not great.
Overall A Blind Spot for Boys was a good book, it just wasn’t the amazing novel I was hoping it would be. If you like books set in unusual settings this might be a good choice for you, but if you are looking to pick up a Justina Chen novel for the first time, start with North of Beautiful – a far better novel, in my opinion.