“You’ve got to read the book I just finished,” I heard Joy telling my voicemail.  This was not an uncommon message for her to leave.  Recommending the latest and greatest books to each other has been happening since our “Sweet Valley Twins” days.

But what she said next sparked my interest a little more than usual.

“The author is a mom about our age who wrote a memoir about her life and she has RP just like us.  She actually sounds like someone we would be friends with.”

I instantly knew she meant that we would be friends with her because of her personality, not her RP.  I uploaded the book from Audible a few minutes later, and began the journey into Nicole C. Kear’s memoir “Now I See You”.

When Joy assigned this book report (yes, my English teacher twin demands that I contribute to this blog at least once a year), I wasn’t quite sure where to start.  I had not written a book review since maybe the 8th grade, so I decided to read a few reviews prior to writing this review.  Also, I was really curious to see what people were saying about this book.

I started with the professionals, The New York Times, and then moved along to blogs and finally ordinary people reviewing books on Audiible and Amazon.

Reading book reviews on these larger sites is a lot like reading hotel reviews.  There are your typical informative reviews that help you choose whether or not this hotel will be a good fit for your needs.  And then there are the disgruntled crazy guests whose reviews just make you laugh because it is obvious that no amount of amenities or customer service could ever satisfy this unhappy individual.

Which brings me to one review I came across in which the woman was, first of all, quite bothered by the amount of profanities in the book.  On the one hand, I could see her point.  I was raised in a house where “shut up” fell under the naughty category.  But I also watch R rated movies quite frequently, and if there’s anything that makes me want to drop the F bomb on a regular basis, it’s my vision loss.  Plus, the cussing in this case is a consistent part of the author’s witty, raw, and at times painfully honest voice.

Miss “No Potty Talk” continued, “Also, I was really hoping to read a book more about someone going blind.” This brief review made me laugh.  I knew instantly it was written by someone who had not had the enlightening experience of slowly going blind.  This person had an idea of what a book about someone going blind should be, and this memoir apparently did not sound like what she envisioned.  And for me, that is what I enjoyed most about “Now I See You” – one woman’s authentic experience of going blind.

As I listened to her stories, I often felt as though she were telling my story.  Only with a lot more profanities and Italian accents.  But still, so much of what she wrote resonated with me and reminded me of my own story.  Of course there is the obvious connection of having the same rare degenerative eye disease as the author.  But there are also universal themes in the book – shame, pride, guilt – that allow readers of all backgrounds to connect with her stories.

The humor and sassiness in which she conveys her memoir sent me into hysterical, audible laughter at times.  Her talent for writing comedy is right up there with Tina Faye’s “Bossy Pants” and Amy Poehler’s “Yes Please”.  While Ms. Kear is not a professional comedian, she does have a background in theater, which is why I highly recommend listening to this book for a full entertainment experience.

At parts of her memoir, Ms. Kear was literally living out my nightmares. Driving a motor vehicle with low vision for one, and navigating nightlife  in LA and New York City for another.  At other parts, she was living out my reality.  Bumping into fire hydrants and plowing over unsuspecting toddlers.  It was somehow comforting to hear about another young woman trying to hide her inabilities just as my sister and I have done.  And fascinating to learn that her outspoken, East Coast Italian family had chosen not to discuss her vision loss just as my mild-mannered, Midwest family had done.   These similarities were not just an odd coincidence, but a reminder of the human condition we all share.  

Double vision consensus:  Joy and Jenelle give it 4 thumbs up
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11 thoughts on “Book Review: “Now I See You”

  1. Will definitely be downloading this book! Reading this book review makes me miss you Nelly. You and your sister both have a way of writing in your posts that gets me excited about living this life I have, with authenticity. Just wish we could catch up over some coffee/tea for you. Or wine. Like right now. Damn mountain in the way. Sending love

    • Thank you, Laura! I honestly pick up my phone at least once a week with intentions to call you and catch up. And I’m inevitably interrupted by someone needing help with homework or the smell of dirty diapers. Thanks for reading this post and commenting (so quickly, too!) Enjoy the book, and let’s really catch up soon!

  2. Thanks for the book review! I’m always looking for new books for my kindle or to listen to on the way to work. I’ll get the audio version of this. Are you and Joy on goodreads?

    I love reading your blog. Miss you!

  3. Thanks Kierstyn! I was wondering who heartshapedhome was! 🙂 Thanks so much for continuing to read our blog! BTW – loved your birth announcement – your little guy is so adorable!
    I will have to check out goodreads!

  4. I will read this book with eager anticipation. I am sure I will benefit from thinking and hearing from someone with a fresh perspective of the none ending denial we all live with in our lives. Also thanks for your synopsis of the book and how it intertwined with you & Joyful’s life. Love & respect.

  5. Janelle your review was so entertaining to read because you communicated what related and resonated with you about the memoir Now I See You. I read the book last year and loved it. Nicole writes with a sass and honesty that kept me turning the pages as she recounted her story.

    I use goodreads. It’s a great way for a booknerd to track of reading/want to read/reviews.

    • Glad you enjoyed the book and my review of it! I will for sure check out goodreads.

      BTW – I liked your post on apps the other day. I am going to get that low vision one you suggested. LIke you said – at 99 cents, it’s worth a try!

  6. I read this book and I agree that it is an honest story of going blind. You can see the author going through stages of grief as RP slowly stripped her vision, especially denial. My mom has RP and I saw so may similarities to my mom’s story, even though my Mom was born in the ’40s, in Big Rock, VA, the daughter of a coal-miner. I think it speaks to the human condition, pride, adversity, the fears of being a mother, the fear of being seen as less than, with a crazy good amount of humor.

  7. I like that you highlighted her fears of being a mother. That is something I did not mention in my review, but it is an important part of her story. As a mother, I can certainly relate to these feelings. Thanks for sharing about your own mother and her struggles with RP. I hope that doublevision blog is providing you with further insight into the experience of RP.

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