Optimists Die First – Susin Nielsen


519j-sh8npl Optimists Die First – Susin Nielsen, Wendy Lamb Books, 9780553496901, 2017

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

What did you like about the book? Petula De Wilde is afraid of everything.  She has been since a family tragedy for which she personally takes the  blame. Even worse than fearing all the many freak ways that people (mostly optimists) can be hurt or killed, Petula the Pessimist despises her weekly and mandatory art therapy classes.  Until Jacob, who seems so normal and confident and easy-going, shows up in class with his prosthetic arm and his humor, skills with a movie camera and tender manner bring not just Petula but others out of their internal shells while deftly avoiding ever revealing his own past traumas. This is a love story, a story about fears, a story about tragedies and growing up.  It is at times laugh-out-loud funny and sniffle-scene-sad.  Petula is a fabulous narrator filled with doubts and yearnings and a voice that is very easy to get sucked into.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Nothing.  There’s some good diversity even and while the book is very slightly sexual it does it beautifully; highly recommended. Although if you’re looking for a serious take on the realities of anxiety this is NOT the book to go for; it’s nearly flippant about OCD behaviors being solvable by Boy Lurve so take that with a grain of salt as it may instead make the story rub you entirely the wrong way…

To whom would you recommend this book?  Great for fans of Sarah Dessen’s writing or John Green’s great characters or Laurie Halse Anderson’s good plots.

Who should buy this book? High Schools, Libraries

Where would you shelve it? YA Fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  Yes!

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: April Duclos, Hudson Public Library, Hudson MA

Date of review: 2/16/17

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