We Are Immeasurable by B. L. McGrew
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November 18, 2019
I’m going to be honest here, when I first heard of We Are Immeasurable, I thought it sounded interesting and had an amazing looking cover, but I had no intention of picking it up anytime soon. I hadn’t been introduced to B. L. McGrew yet and I’m not big on e-books. If I decide to read a book for myself, I’m almost always going to spring for a physical copy of the book. There’s just something relaxing to me about having a book in my hands — not just my phone or an e-reader or kindle.
However, I digressed! To the point, I picked this book up because I won a free copy from Black Men Read on Twitter and because I had the honor of speaking with B. L. McGrew on the Written in Melanin Podcast. I wanted to know more about this world that she created and I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to read this book.
There are two things that you absolutely know about Ezmerelda Day from the first chapter. One, she is blind and two, she hates being called Ezmerelda. She goes by Mazie and is adamant that anyone who interacts with her calls her that. She has lived her life as independently as possible, but since she’d been in a high school for the blind, she felt like she was being coddled there and missing the true experiences life offered in a regular high school to prepare her for the real world. So, for her senior year, she decides to transfer to her local public high school. While there, she meets Barnaby Parks.
Barnaby Parks is the boy who is assigned to show Mazie where the library is during her first week of going to school without a chaperone. Without missing a beat, he engages her in conversation — and Mazie being accustomed to being alone in her dark world, finds Barnaby annoying. He teases her, argues with her, questions her, embarrasses her and makes her blush — and then they repeat it again the next day and every day after that.
Mazie and Barnaby fall in love in the most beautiful and genuine way that can be described. They’re in love with each other before they ever realize it and the way they interact is so relatable. They’re teenagers and they argue and they say the wrong things and their feelings are intense and they can’t keep their hands off each other. I’ve read a lot of YA books, but I absolutely adored the way this book wrote how they fell in love. It wasn’t rushed — it wasn’t an “on again, off again” relationship — it wasn’t so far fetched that you couldn’t imagine them being in your high school or your friend or your cousin.
They were real.
And that, for me, was the best part of this book — the realness, the emotions, the relatability! The story is beautiful too and the mix of ups and downs was blended well — it was like a well timed roller-coaster. It moved fast enough to give you a rush, gave you enough loops to keep you excited, and slowed down just at the right time before catching another wave of momentum.
This book made me feel things.
This book made me remember falling in love.
This book reminded me of why I love, love so much.
I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who loves a romantic story about teenagers fighting to not be insignificant in a world of infinities. If you are a fan of John Green’s A Fault in Our Stars, then you will love this book too — guaranteed.
Spoilers ahead! If you haven’t read the book, this would be a good place to stop.
So, to be honest, I loved every major scene in this book. I loved the football field — their first date — the boat ride — all of it. I absolutely love people falling in love in such a pure way, but that’s not even the highlight of this book — it’s the way this story is told.
Mazie and Barnaby fall in love in the most simple and complicated of ways — which I’ll talk about in just a moment — but it’s the way you read about them falling in love. They are unique because she’s blind and the way she experiences the world and Barnaby is completely different than what you would get otherwise. There aren’t lengthy descriptions about what things look like and that gives the reader the chance to really experience the world in the same way that Mazie would.
Mazie doesn’t get to “read the room”. She doesn’t get to see the way Barnaby looks at her — she doesn’t get to have her breath taken away by how handsome he his — she can’t subtly read his expressions or even just text him. There is a whole level of communication that she doesn’t get to participate in because she’s blind. And this book had the opportunity to gloss over that — to ignore the intricacies of communication and just how much is lost by not being able to see — and it didn’t. Instead, it embraced it and did it in such a way, that it didn’t dehumanize Mazie.
She’s a strong character and she recognizes her limitations but she doesn’t let them define her — and that’s what makes her an amazing character. She’s selfish and self-centered — she’s had cancer and has had everyone around her focus purely on her and what she’s going through. I really appreciated that aspect of her personality was demonstrated — when Barnaby comes over for the first time and her sister is making polite conversation, she realizes that she’s never actually asked Barnaby anything about himself — it’s been all about her. But even though she’s so selfish, she tries not to be and she tries not to be a burden, which is evident when she finds out she’s got cancer again and tries to push Barnaby away.
Of course, Barnaby doesn’t let her and that is what makes him great.
I am a self-proclaimed Barnaby Parks fangirl — he’s amazing. For one, he talks — and not in the constant smooth and smoldering way that book guys often do. He’s real — he talks way too much and annoys Mazie and doesn’t always say what needs to be said when it needs to be said. He’s not perfect either — he keeps secrets — he disappears sometimes — he’s got a temper — but his flaws make him better because it makes him real. Mazie doesn’t get swept away by his looks or the constant “physical attraction” that is so often the focal point of a lot of relationships. She falls in love with HIM and who he is — and she points that out in the book. She tells her sister, who wants to describe him to her, that she doesn’t even want to know what he looks like because it doesn’t matter to her.
Over every page of this book, they fall in love slowly. They’re seniors in high school — Mazie’s never dated before — they’ve both got secrets and issues and walls built up and they get scared by what they’re feeling for each other. They argue — they go days without talking to each other sometimes even though it’s killing them — Barnaby pushes her limits and Mazie grounds him in a way no one else can. They so much belong together it’s painful and cute and exciting and you just want them to be happy together forever because they love each other SO MUCH. It reminded me of what it was like to both fall in love for the first time but also what it was like to fall in love with the right person. Mazie was lucky enough for the first person and the right person to be one in the same.
The ending broke my heart and I’m not over it yet.
It was tragic and beautiful and too heavy for this world built of love and butterflies — but that’s what makes this book what it is. It never strays too far away from dealing with the real of the world even while giving you the story of a beautiful romance.
This book is easily one of my favorites. It’s a romance, but it’s also a coming-of-age story about what it truly means to keep moving forward — about not letting your circumstances define you — about not giving up — about not being afraid of love or the future.
Alright, that’s my two cents on this book — spend it how you like!
Until next time, may your days be lovely and your books interesting.