This review contains no spoilers.
I’m just going to say it right now---I don’t usually read teen fiction, kind of like the people who never eat salads or deviled eggs, or onions. It’s just not my margarita, and that’s okay. To each her own and all of that. Yes, there is a ‘but’ coming, and not the kind that farts gas. The ‘but’ I’m referring to is the fact that not only did I actually enjoy reading a book that is not my usual genre, but that We Are Immeasurable is one of the best indie books I’ve had the pleasure of reading and reviewing. That’s saying a lot, because most indie books suck.
There, I said it, and I’m an indie author too. Bite me.
We Are Immeasurable is the touching, coming-of-age story of an 18-year-old girl who wishes to go to public high school for her senior year. This sounds pretty cliche so far, right? But here’s the breath of fresh air in what would have ended up being just another high school story: Ezmerelda is blind.
High school is challenging enough when you don’t have a disability, but when you do, it can be like relearning the alphabet. Ezmerelda, who actually did have to relearn the alphabet in the form of Braille, now has to learn how to navigate an environment that does not cater to blind students. From the stares she cannot see, but sense, to the limited collection of Braille books in the library, she knows she is in for a challenge, perhaps her greatest in a short life that has already seen more than its share of hell. Even more annoying than all this is her new friend Barnaby, a boy whom she would really love to punch because of his big mouth that never closes. But if she didn’t have him, she’d have no friends at all.
I adored Ezmerelda, who prefers to be called Maizie, right from the first page. It was obvious early on that she was a strong, stubborn young woman that was determined not to let her blindness of the last five or six years ruin the joy in her life. She was tough and brave, yet feminine enough to not put people off. I can’t stand female characters that are far too confident to ever admit that they need help occasionally, or ones that act perfect at all times. Maizie was neither of these, and I found myself wishing that I could meet her face-to-face, because I think we’d be great pals.
Barnaby was an insanely likeable character. Annoyingly loveable, and funny as a comedian, he was highly entertaining to read about, especially when he was going out of his way to tease Maizie and make her mad enough to throw things at him.
B.L. McGrew has many elements in her writing that impress me more than a person who stops aging without the help of night cream. The three that stood out best for me were the characters, humor, and dialogue.
Characters: Ezmerelda, her sister Amaya, and her friend Barnaby were so well-painted in their descriptions, mannerisms and ways of speaking, that I often felt like they were right there in the room with me as I read the text.
Humor: It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book that’s been laugh-out-loud funny, but this one had me wiping my eyes and blowing my nose because my face tends to turn into a swamp when I laugh too much.
Dialogue: Beautifully written, the chemistry and humor in the interactions between characters was very enjoyable, and often highly amusing to read because of the sarcasm. As a person who can’t live without her daily dose of sarcasm, I greatly appreciated this.
The only thing I really didn’t care for about the book (though it didn’t detract from the skill with which it was written) was the fact that it was written in the present tense. I don’t know if this is just a trend in the teen book genre, but I see it a lot these days and I just don’t prefer it. McGrew wrote a great book, but I would have enjoyed it better if it was in past tense. On the other hand, the present tense passively represents and re-enforces the live-in-the-moment theme that the book pounds into you from chapter one to the epilogue, so perhaps it was done for that reason.
Tenses aside, this book is not to be missed!