________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 25. . . .March 4, 2016


Sight Unseen.

David Carroll.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2015.
234 pp., trade pbk., ebook & Apple ed., $7.99 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4431-4690-6 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4431-4691-3 (ebook), ISBN 978-1-4431-4692-0 (Apple ed.).

Grades 7-10 / Ages 12-15.

Review by Christina Neigel.

***½ /4



Seconds left until school: 1,832,400 Until Lights Out:140,738,400

I couldn’t get to sleep that night. No surprise there. I’d barely slept in months. I’d become a pretty good insomniac since getting the bad news about my eyes, so most nights I just listened to music or tried playing games online. Of course, I couldn’t get any Wi Fi at Splitsville, so I just lay in my bed, thinking of things to add to the list of
Things We Do Not Know.

The list was getting long. Yes, I always wrote with a Sharpie, so my printing was larger than most people’s; but still, the list took up twelve pages of my spiral notebook!

I took a stack of yellow sticky notes and stuck them in a column on the wall. Then I wrote a different phrase on each of the notes.

What’s with Royal Galas?

Asparagus Pee

Why do ninjas run with their arms behind their backs?

The column of notes went from the floor to way above my head.

Then I did the same thing with the list of
Things We Know. That list only came up to my waist.

Across the hallway, I could hear Cheese flopping around on his bed. It was 3:17 a.m. I wasn’t the slightest bit tired.

I tried writing some more things that I knew.

Minnow hates my guts.
Spencer hates my guts.
My parents think I am useless.”


Set in the wilderness of the Albertan Rocky Mountains, Finn spends his last two weeks of summer with his family and his school friend, Cheese, at “Splitsville”, the family cabin. Struggling with a degenerative eye disease that will take approximately five years to completely blind him, Finn literally counts down the days, minutes and seconds until “Lights Out”. He is struggling with the loss of his ability to do all of the things he loves, including biking. However, he forgets his obsessive counting when he discovers a mysterious floating island where time stands still and his vision is strangely restored. Faced with the opportunity to spend the rest of his days hiding from his world in this place he names “Perpetuum”, Finn confronts his feelings about his disease and his relationship with his friends and family.

     Taking a first person perspective, the author helps readers to “get inside” the head of a 14-year-old who has to deal with both the usual struggles of adolescence and his disease. Through his fantastic adventure, Finn wrestles with himself and his relationships, trying to come to terms with a future that he had not envisioned for himself.

     David Carroll’s characterizations are highly believable and compelling. Finn is a complex character who is, at times, both likeable and unlikeable. Carroll captures the severe beauty and richness of the Rocky Mountains, creating an excellent parallel to Finn’s personal journey through his own emotional wilderness. The cadence and vocabulary of the story, although believable, is ideally suited to younger teens from ages 12-15. The subject matter offers a fresh and meaningful perspective on what it means to be “able” and “normal”, making Sight Unseen a solid addition to tween and teen collections.

Highly Recommended.

Christina Neigel is an associate professor in Library and Information Technology at the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, BC. She is currently completing a doctorate in education at Simon Fraser University.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

CM Home | Next Review | Table of Contents for This Issue - March 4, 2016 | Back Issues | Search | CM Archive | Profiles Archive

Updated: October 17, 2014 (hsd)