Thursday, February 16, 2017

Optimists Die First - Susin Nielsen

Optimists Die First 
Susan Nielsen
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Reading Challenges:  #ContRom2017, Alphabet Soup Challenge

I knew nothing about this book when Kiersten brought it to me, but the cover was ok and I liked the title, so I said I would read it. I am really glad I made that decision, because this book was wonderful!

A photo posted by Sam Kozbial (@kozbisa) on

Petula's family had experienced a HUGE tragedy, and this turned Tula into a pessimists with a million phobias. Her irrational fear of just about everything had been her coping mechanism until Jacob came into her life. He was this bright ray of sunshine, who appeared severely optimistic and tended to bring out the best in those around him.
I learned some lessons that day:
  1. Life is not fair.
  2. Tragedy can strike when you least expect it.
  3. Always expect the worst. That way, you might stand a chance of protecting yourself and the ones you love.
The blurb on the back of the book pretty much summed this book up for me
One pessimist. One optimist. One love story. Award-winning author Susin Nielsen's irresistible novel is both heartrending and laugh-out-loud funny. 
One minute, I would be laughing because Petula was hilarious, but then I would be crying because it was so tragic, it was all so tragic. The pain was so raw and real. Nielsen did such a fantastic job depicting this broken, grieving family. Petula would often compare the before family to the now family, and it just broke my heart into pieces.
We moved into Arcadia. Just the three of us and our invisible zeppelin of grief.
The heart of this story was Petula and her band of teen misfits. As part of her penance for some heinous acts, Petula had to attend an art therapy group. This group was filled with some interesting and colorful characters. It was not surprising that Nielsen did a great job portraying the flawed teens knowing her background as a writer for Degrassi Junior High. This group was so delightful and authentic, and I enjoyed getting to know each and every one of them.

"Jacob resuscitated you," said Koula.
The love story was quite sweet. It unfolded slowly, and I smiled a lot. As the connection between Tula and Jacob grew,  Petula began to heal, and she began to resemble her former self.

Other things to love:
  1. Catadaptions!
  2. Crafting (I wish I had such skills)
  3. Petula and her mother are readers, and there is a lot of fun bookish stuff in this book
  4. The principal (he really did put the "pal" in principal)
  5. Where the Wild Things Are (*tears*)
Maybe catadaptions looks like this

Overall: A beautiful story of love and healing, of overcoming great losses and being able to be open to new beginnings. 

**I would like to thank Wendy Lamb Books for the advanced copy of this book

Do you have any phobias?
Let us know in the comments!

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