“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.