Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen

Optimists Die First

Author: Susin Nielsen
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Release Date: February 21, 2017
Pages: 224

Author Website|Book Depository|Goodreads

Goodreads Synopsis: Beware: Life ahead.

Sixteen-year-old Petula de Wilde is anything but wild. A former crafting fiend with a happy life, Petula shut herself off from the world after a family tragedy. She sees danger in all the ordinary things, like crossing the street, a bug bite, or a germy handshake. She knows: life is out to get you.

The worst part of her week is her comically lame mandatory art therapy class with a small group of fellow misfits. Then a new boy, Jacob, appears at school and in her therapy group. He seems so normal and confident, though he has a prosthetic arm; and soon he teams up with Petula on a hilarious project, gradually inspiring her to let go of some of her fears. But as the two grow closer, a hidden truth behind why he’s in the group could derail them, unless Petula takes a huge risk. . .

Jen’s Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

REVIEW: There is much pain between these pages and many different coping mechanisms. Petula has become a germaphobe, well to an extent because at her house it’s a whole other something going on. Her mother who takes in stray cats left and right, can’t seem to stop herself. Her father is very distant from them. All of this coming from a broken place in their lives.

Optimists Die First is the beginning of life after a tragedy. When everyone is trying to move past what has happened, but knowing it won’t be possible without letting go of the pain. It is not always an easy read as memories surface often and life finds its way back to that time. In all of it, Petula has to get herself out of that sadness and guilt she feels or she’ll never be able to fully move forward.

At times it seemed middle grade type of a read, at other times more of a YA feel. And that is fine with me as it had it’s cute parts and everyday struggles. Along with a love story that grew in time. Jacob, who is someone that can match Petula and understands to an extent what life has been for her. Whether she wanted him around or not from the start, it didn’t matter. They were brought together frequently with class assignments and even a program for troubled teens called Youth Art Therapy (YART).

And when the reader is not in the world of Jacob and Petula, it’s at her house with her parents who are trying to keep their family connected. It is not easy to go through, watching as her mother has lost herself within what’s going on in her mind. Her dad is gone most of the time and when he is home it is such an unwelcoming sight that Petrula tries her hardest to keep it in any kind of order possible.

It might be a short book, but it holds many emotions. It’s honest and packed with sentiment. It does come off a bit on the depressing side, but life tends to be that way. It’s not always rainbows and sunshine and it’s a view of one side of things, how it can become when life hands us painful moments. We grow from stories like these, we feel for the characters within these pages. And even though it was on the darker side, it helped by showing that good comes out of it, that life doesn’t stay this way if we just push through.

***I received this copy from Wendy Lamb Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.***


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