Optimists Die First

Optimists Die First

Book - 2017
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This touching, hilarious tragi-comedy by award-winning author Susin Nielsen proves: Life is out to get you. But so is love. A quirky alternative to the "sick lit" genre for YA readers.


Petula's funny, and a crafting genius, but no social star at high school, and it doesn't help that she's isolated herself after her adored toddler sister died. Petula feels responsible for this death, though her parents say it was a tragic accident. No one's fault. Now, Petula sees danger everywhere: every activity and every bite of food could kill you. Then a new boy, Jacob, joins Petula's group in the school's lame art therapy program; he has a prosthetic arm and darkness behind his sunny surface. Petula and Jacob become friends, then, something more. But a secret behind why he's in the group could derail them.

A heartbreaking yet humorous first YA from award-winning author Susin Nielsen, Optimists Die First continues Susin's tradition of creating memorable characters and genre-bending narratives.
Publisher: Toronto : Tundra Books, [2017]
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9781770497825
9781770497832
Branch Call Number: YA FIC Niels
Characteristics: 228 pages ; 22 cm

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anne1212li
Jan 30, 2019

QUESTION: Do you think Petula should stay an optimist? Should she stay a pessimist instead?

samcmar Jan 16, 2019

I adore books by Susin Nielsen, and I've read nearly every single book she's put out to date. Petula is a fantastic heroine and her quirks are just so fascinating to read about. I loved the romance in this story (which is rare for me), I loved Jacob (and his reveal hurt so much!), and I loved the supporting character in this story as well. There is so many great moments of humour and the portrayal of grief in this book is sharp and sensitive. If you've never read any of Nielsen's books, this one is definitely recommended!

WCCLS_BryceK Oct 15, 2018

Irreverent but sincere. Would recommend for a quick light-hearted read that's trauma-related, in case that's something you needed right now.

Optimists Die First is a romance book about Petula De Wilde. Petula came across a tragedy that caused her to become pessimistic and overly cautious, leading to her participation in a youth art therapy class, YART for short. In YART, there are other misfits who have also gone through hard times, and are there to express themselves through art. Early in the book, she meets Jacob Cohen, a boy with a prosthetic arm, and begins to open up herself as she works on a project with him in YART. I liked how the characters in the book were described - they had depth and had gone through a sort of tragedy or problem in their life. The book seems simple at first, but as more details and scenarios are uncovered, the book contains depth, and there is a sort of twist. I recommend this book to people who want to read a romance with some drama. - Sam
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Hey, what can I say? I really enjoyed the book. I mean, it’s kinda hard to put into words, because the storytelling was so colorful and vibrant. So, uh, I’ll try to review this book as best as I can (you know, pros and cons, stuff like that).
Now, it’s actually been a while since I have read the book, a few months actually (sorry), and I think one of the reasons why I didn’t write a review directly after was because I had so much fun reading that I forgot I had a job to do. I also don’t remember some of the names and scenes, whoops. That mishap will come back to bite me one day, I know it (sigh). Well, enough about me, onto the book.
The book opens up with a wonderful introductory sequence that introduces the main characters in a quick yet effective manner that I thought was very efficient. The main gist of the book is a story about facing your fears, learning to accept the past and move on, and, um, love. Yep, I picked the book out thinking it was just another ol’ book, and lo and behold it was mainly a love story. That’s okay, though, the plot and story are near-flawless. There are some sad parts to it though, like the main character accidentally killing her baby sister (yup), and that’s something you don’t see everyday. I felt a lot of emotions during my time reading, like fear, sadness, curiosity, and the emotion of ‘oh no what is this’ sweep across me, and not every book can convey emotion upon me like that; I applaud you, Susin. The main character has terrible anxiety, and you can see it a lot within the pages of this book. There are all kinds of people inside this book: gays, thugs, amputees, all the unusual stuff. Its uniqueness and charm makes this book one of my favorites, and I think all together I spent 5 or 6 hours reading it. And, well, that’s it. That’s my review, thanks for reading! - Berzan

CarleeMcDot Mar 26, 2018

Whenever someone suggest a book I put it on my "For Later" shelf at the library (as long as it is one they have). If they've been on that shelf for a while I forget where I got the recommendation for... which is the case for this book. The hubby and I actually grabbed the audio book for our three week road trip and figured we'd give it a listen while we were on the road. I didn't know anything about it when I grabbed it, but I have to say, I really enjoyed it (as did the hubby). It was a short "read" (the audiobook was very quick compared to others we have listened to in the past), but it packs a good punch. The main character, Petula, does her best to minimize risks because she fears the absolute worst. It is great to see her come out of her shell around the band of misfits she has assembled around herself and how they help each other grow and evolve. I thought it was a great story of love, healing, overcoming losses and finding new beginnings. I would give it an 8 out of 10.

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TEENREVIEWBOARD
Dec 29, 2017

Rating: 5/5 This story is a very original and interesting concept. The main character, Petula is haunted by the death of her beloved sister after her sister dies by choking on a button that Petula sewed for her. She is afraid of everything and is isolated due to her anxiety. In a support group, she meets a boy that has a darkness beneath his happy exterior. As she learns to move on from her trauma, she realizes that the boy she thought she knew has secrets of his own. This story shows that one stupid decision can affect the course of your life. At times, I was angry at the characters for not being forgiving of people's mistakes.
@sunsetzuzu of the Hamilton Public Library Teen Review Board

Incredible! I was amazed at how this story engaged me so well, I couldn’t put the book down! It was as though I was living inside of the book and experiencing the troubles Petula, the main character, was going through. I have developed a love of realist young adult books but each time I read a book like this one, it always takes me by surprise the diction the author uses and the way they engage the reader. After Petula goes through a family tragedy, she begins to see the world as a terrible and dangerous place full of disease and harm. This all slowly begins to change after a boy shows up to her school and is involved with an art therapy with Petula. Following this exciting journey and showing the evolution of Petula will change how you see the characters and learn what one secret can do in a relationship. I would highly recommend this fantastic book to teenagers and fans of romance novels and you will quickly learn why once you begin to read the book! I would give this book a rating of 4 out of 5.
- @booklover327 of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

JCLChrisK Oct 19, 2017

An engaging and moving study of a character--plus her entire supporting cast--dealing with grief and guilt of various types. 3.5 stars.

samdog123 Sep 15, 2017

Two years after Petula's younger sister dies in a tragic accident, she and her family have not been able to overcome their overwhelming grief. When Petula meets Jacob at an art therapy class, she begins to see the world in a different way and slowly overcomes her anxieties. A great companion read to the Hero of Room 13B.

d
donutwombat
Aug 10, 2017

This book begins with the usual, and normally I would have put down a typical teenage love story, but what really hooked me was the interesting characters and unordinary plot as the story unraveled. The author manages to make one pessimist and one optimist fall in love, adding more spice to the story. The setting is set in Vancouver, a place we are well familiar with. Another story well written, well worth the four and half stars.

y
Yohoona
Aug 06, 2017

I honestly didn't think much of this book in the beginning. However, as the plot unrolls, and more facts and characters came into play, I was hooked. This book is quite interesting because it will provide a new point of view for a lot of people-a pessimist's view. (At least for me, it did). At any rate, this book is what people would call an "oddball story", but I think that adds to the richness of this story. This book is full of surprises and plot twists, and I think you'll follow along until the entire plot rolls out. Another great book.

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anne1212li
Jan 30, 2019

anne1212li thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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donutwombat
Aug 10, 2017

donutwombat thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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anne1212li
Jan 30, 2019

''Always expect the worst''
-Petula de Wilde

JCLChrisK Oct 19, 2017

Either they were stupid, or they were optimists. Most likely both. "I will outlive you all," I muttered under my breath.

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