A Semi-definitive List Of Worst Nightmares by Krystal SutherlandA Semi-definitive List Of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland

A Semi-definitive List Of Worst Nightmares

byKrystal Sutherland

Hardcover | September 5, 2017

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 120 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Available in stores


From the author of Our Chemical Hearts comes the hilarious, reality-bending tale of two outsiders facing their greatest fears about life and love—one debilitating phobia at a time.
Ever since Esther Solar’s grandfather was cursed by Death, everyone in her family has been doomed to suffer one great fear in their lifetime. Esther’s father is agoraphobic and hasn’t left the basement in six years, her twin brother can’t be in the dark without a light on, and her mother is terrified of bad luck.
The Solars are consumed by their fears and, according to the legend of the curse, destined to die from them.
Esther doesn’t know what her great fear is yet (nor does she want to), a feat achieved by avoiding pretty much everything. Elevators, small spaces and crowds are all off-limits. So are haircuts, spiders, dolls, mirrors and three dozen other phobias she keeps a record of in her semi-definitive list of worst nightmares.
Then Esther is pickpocketed by Jonah Smallwood, an old elementary school classmate. Along with her phone, money and a fruit roll-up she’d been saving, Jonah also steals her list of fears. Despite the theft, Esther and Jonah become friends, and he sets a challenge for them: in an effort to break the curse that has crippled her family, they will meet every Sunday of senior year to work their way through the list, facing one terrifying fear at a time, including one that Esther hadn’t counted on: love.
Krystal Sutherland was born and raised in Townsville, Australia—an inhospitable land where crocodiles, snakes, and jellyfish are always on the prowl. She grew up living directly across the road from the local library and spent almost every day after school (and weekends, too) having adventures between the pages of books (mainly because...
Title:A Semi-definitive List Of Worst NightmaresFormat:HardcoverProduct dimensions:368 pages, 8.56 × 5.94 × 1.19 inShipping dimensions:8.56 × 5.94 × 1.19 inPublished:September 5, 2017Publisher:Penguin Young Readers GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0399546596

ISBN - 13:9780399546594


Rated 4 out of 5 by from Review posted on Fafa's Book Corner! Beware spoilers ahead! Trigger warning: Death, mention of murder's, physical violence, mention of war, mention of kidnapping, suicide attempt, mention of critically injured animal, and abusive parent. The Solar family has been cursed by death. During their grandfather's war days, he met death. Not just once but many times. Death cursed the Solar family to die from a fear. Hence why Esther Solar made a list of fears. Then she meets Jonah, a childhood friend. Much to her surprise he robs her. The two meet again with Jonah promising to help Esther conquer her list. In 2016 Sutherland released her debut. I didn't much care for it. I decided to check out this book because the synopsis sounded good. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it! The book is written in third person omniscient following Esther and flashbacks of her grandfather with death. There is one scene that is narrated from Death's point of view. The chapters are titled based off a fear of Esther's. Some chapters just have titles that don't pertain to Esther's list. I'm really happy that I gave this book a shot! It was good and I enjoyed the magical realism aspect a lot. Even the family and friendship dynamics. I also felt that the author excelled at portraying mental health. I liked Esther! She was a great character. I especially loved her growth and that she ended up loving herself. Esther's list of fears is based on things she's seen on tv and heard stories about. The list was quite interesting. And you can honestly fear most of it. By the end she did love and acknowledge every aspect of herself.  I liked Eugene a lot. He is Esther's twin. He spends a lot of his time trying to convince Esther that the curse isn't real. That their family has mental illnesses. The two have a really close bond. And it was nice to read about. Esther doesn't have the best relationship with her parents. Her father never leaves their basement. There's a bathroom and food gets brought down. Meanwhile their mother who used to be so strong isn't anymore. Their mother spends her time gambling. Her top concern is their money. Esther is torn up over her parents and doesn't know what to do. Hephzibah is Esther's best friend. The two of them used to be friends with Jonah and met each other in school. Esther has never heard Hephzibah speak. The two communicate in sign language and text messages. I enjoyed their friendship!  Jonah and Esther of course didn't have a good introduction. When Esther sees him again she punches him. Which was justified. Things happen and the two come to an agreement. Their relationship was so cute! I really enjoyed the two of them tackling the list. Jonah and Esther were rocks for each other. They really helped each other grow. And they were such a cute couple!  Death was such a nice connection! I enjoyed reading the flashbacks with him and their grandfather. It was a nice touch of magical realism. And brought the grandfather as a character. In present day the grandfather is dying. There were a lot of good quotes with their conversations. And the topic of death was tackled in such an interesting manner. I especially liked that at the end all the characters are still struggling with their mental health. Eugene and Esther decide to go get therapy. Yay for positive therapy rep! Their family is still struggling. The relationship to one-another makes them so strong. Jonah doesn't just magically cure Esther. She is still working on it. Overall I really enjoyed this book! I highly recommend.
Date published: 2018-12-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it This book had a great portrayal of mental illness and maintained a light atmosphere even though it addressed some very dark topics. The romance was sweet and natural, and was not rushed at all. Overall a solid read.
Date published: 2018-08-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Awesome Portrays mental illness perfectly- beautiful read.
Date published: 2018-02-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Walk in The Shoes of Mental Illness A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares is a poetically written story from the perspective of a young girl suffering from mental illness. It's a story you will initially love, then question, then love again, over and over as it's written to ensure that the reader feels a level of discomfort that comes with mental illness. It's quirky and has a fantastical flare that keeps you curious until the end. I would not recommend this book for anyone who wants a fun easy-going read. But I do recommend it to those looking for a read that will challenge their perspective. It's a story I would (and will) read again.
Date published: 2018-01-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from ok this was decent overall, however it could have been much better.
Date published: 2017-12-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Off and On I was super excited for this, loving the little snippet of what the book was about. Once I got my package in, it was the first book I reached for. Yet it took me quite a while to get into it. Usually I'm hooked on a book by page 20, but it was closer to 100 when I finally felt like I wanted to finish reading this book. From about midway on, I got really into the book. I finally felt a connection with the characters. But again, felt off when it reached the end. Almost like the end was rushed, or forced, or just pieced together but not actually thought about. All in all, it was a decent read. I'm not mad about my purchase, but it might not end up on my shelf of all time favourites.
Date published: 2017-09-23

Read from the Book

1 The Boy at the Bus Stop   ESTHER SOLAR had been waiting outside Lilac Hill Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for half an hour when she received word that the curse had struck again. Rosemary Solar, her mother, explained over the phone that she would no longer, under any circumstances, be able to pick her daughter up. A cat black as night with demon-yellow slits for eyes had been found sitting atop the hood of the family car—an omen dark enough to prevent her from driving. Esther was unfazed. The spontaneous development of phobias was not a new phenomenon in the Solar family, and so she made her way to the bus stop four blocks from Lilac Hill, her red cape billowing in the evening breeze and drawing a few stares from strangers along the way.   On the walk, she thought about who normal people would call in a situation such as this. Her father was still interred in the basement he’d confined himself to six years ago, Eugene was AWOL (Esther suspected he’d slipped through another gap in reality—it happened to Eugene from time to time), and her grandfather no longer possessed the fine motor skills required to operate a vehicle (not to mention that he couldn’t remember that she was his granddaughter). Basically, Esther had very few people who could bail her out of a crisis. The bus stop was empty for a Friday night. Only one other person sat there, a tall black guy dressed like a character from a Wes Anderson movie, complete with lime-green corduroy pants, a suede jacket, and a beret pulled down over his hair. The boy was sobbing quietly, so Esther did what you’re supposed to do when a complete stranger is showing too much emotion in your presence—she ignored him completely. She sat next to him and took out her tattered copy of The Godfather and tried very hard to concentrate on reading it. The lights above them hummed like a wasp’s nest, flickering on and off. If Esther had kept her eyes down, the next year of her life would’ve turned out quite differently, but she was a Solar, and Solars had a bad habit of sticking their noses where they didn’t belong. The boy sobbed dramatically. Esther looked up. A bruise was blooming across his cheekbone, plum-dark in the fluorescent light, and blood trickled from a split at his eyebrow. His patterned button up—clearly donated to a thrift store sometime in the mid- 1970s—was torn at the collar. The boy sobbed again, then peeked sideways at her. Esther generally avoided talking to people if it wasn’t completely necessary; she sometimes avoided people even when it was completely necessary. “Hey,” she said finally. “You okay?” “Think I got mugged,” he said. “You think?” “Can’t remember.” He pointed to the wound at his forehead. “Took my phone and wallet though, so think I got mugged.” And that’s when she recognized him. “Jonah? Jonah Smallwood?” The years had changed him, but he still had the same wide eyes, the same strong jaw, the same intense stare he had even when he was a kid. He had more hair now: a shadow of stubble and a full head of thick black hair that sat up in a kind of pompadour style. Esther thought he resembled Finn from The Force Awakens, which was, as far as she was concerned, a very good way to look. He glanced at her, at the Jackson Pollock painting of dark freckles smattered across her face and chest and arms, at the mane of peach red hair that fell past her hips. Trying to place her. “How do you know my name?” “You don’t remember me?” They’d only been friends for a year, and they’d only been eight at the time, but still. Esther felt a twinge of sadness that he’d apparently forgotten about her—she had certainly not forgotten about him. “We went to elementary school together,” Esther explained. “I was in Mrs. Price’s class with you. You asked me to be your valentine.” Jonah had bought her a bag of Sweethearts and crafted a handmade card, on which was a drawing of two fruits and a line that read: We make the perfect pear. Inside, he had asked her to meet him at recess. Esther had waited. Jonah hadn’t showed. In fact, she’d never seen him again. Until now. “Oh yeah,” Jonah said slowly, recognition finally dawning on his face. “I liked you because you protested Dumbledore’s death outside the bookstore like a week after the movie came out.” How Esther remembered it: little Esther, seven years old with a bright red bowl cut, picketing the local bookstore with a sign that read, SAVE THE WIZARDS. And then a snippet from the six o’clock news, a reporter kneeling next to her, asking her the question: “You do realize the book was published years ago and the ending can’t be changed?” and her blinking dumbly into the camera. Back to reality: “I hate that there’s video evidence of that.” Jonah nodded at her outfit, at the bloodred cape held at her throat by a ribbon and the wicker basket resting at her feet. “Looks like you’re still strange. Why are you dressed like Red Riding Hood?” Esther hadn’t had to answer questions about her predisposition for costumes for several years. Strangers on the street always assumed she was on her way to or from a costume party. Her teachers—much to their vexation—could find no fault with her outfits as far as the school’s dress code was concerned, and her classmates were used to her coming in dressed as Alice in Wonderland or Bellatrix Lestrange or whatever, and didn’t really care what she wore so long as she kept smuggling them cake. (More on this in a moment.) “I was visiting a grandparent. It seemed appropriate,” she said in reply, which appeared to satisfy Jonah, because he nodded like he understood. “Look, you got any cash on you?” Esther did have cash on her, in her Little Red Riding Hood picnic basket. She had $55, all of it earmarked for her Get the Hell Out of This Podunk Town fund, which now stood at $2,235 in total.   Back to the previously mentioned cake. You see, in Esther’s junior year, East River High had instituted sweeping changes in the cafeteria until only healthy food was available. Gone were the pizzas and chicken nuggets and tots and fries and sloppy joes and nachos that made high school semibearable. The words “Michelle Obama” were now muttered in exasperation every time a new item was added to the menu, like leek and cauliflower soup or steamed broccoli pie. Esther had seen a budding business opportunity and made a box mix of double chocolate fudge brownies. She brought them into school the next day, where she sold each one for five dollars and made a cool profit of fifty bucks. Since then, she’d become the Walter White of junk food; such was the extent of her empire that her customers at school had dubbed her “Cakenberg.” She’d recently expanded her territory to Lilac Hill Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, where the most exciting things on the menu were overcooked hot dog and bland mashed potato. Business was booming. “Why?” she said slowly. “I need money for a bus fare. You give me cash, and I can use your phone to transfer funds from my bank account directly into yours.” It sounded slippery as all hell, but Jonah was bruised and bleeding and crying, and she still halfway saw him as the sweet young boy who’d once liked her enough to draw her a picture of two pears. So Esther said: “How much do you need?” “How much you got? I’ll take it all and transfer you that.” “I have fifty-five dollars.” “I’ll take fifty-five dollars.” Jonah stood up and came to sit next to her. He was much taller than she thought, and thinner too, like a stalk of corn. She watched as he opened the banking app on her phone, logged in, filled in her account details as she gave them to him, and authorized the transfer. Funds transfer successful, the app read. So she leaned down and opened her basket and gave him the fifty-five dollars she’d made at Lilac Hill today. “Thank you,” Jonah said as he shook her hand. “You’re all right, Esther.” Then he stood, and winked, and was gone. Again. And that’s how, on a warm, damp evening at the end of summer, Jonah Smallwood swindled her out of fifty-five dollars and pickpocketed, in the space of approximately four minutes: -her grandmother’s bracelet, right off her wrist -her iPhone -a Fruit Roll-Up from her basket that she’d been saving for the ride home -her library card (which he later used to rack up $19.99 in replacement fees for defacing a copy of Romeo and Juliet with lobster graffiti) -her copy of The Godfather -her semi-definitive list of worst nightmares -and her dignity Esther kept replaying the cringeworthy memory of her Dumbledore protest in her head, and didn’t realize she’d been robbed until her bus arrived six minutes and nineteen seconds later, at which point she exclaimed to the driver, “I’ve been robbed!” To which the driver said, “No riffraff!” and closed the doors in her face. (Perhaps Jonah didn’t steal all of her dignity—the bus driver took what shreds he hadn’t managed to scrape away from her bones.) So you see, the story of how Esther Solar was robbed by Jonah Smallwood is quite straightforward. The story of how she came to love Jonah Smallwood is a little bit more complicated.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares:An Amazon Editor's Favorite YA Book for Fall 2017 An Amazon September Best of the Month Pick — YA/Teens A Hello Giggles Best of September Pick A Bustle Best of September YA PickA 2017 B&N Best Young Adult Book “[A] bewitching book . . . Sutherland's fertile imagination makes this book a deep dive into the intricacies of family, friends, and personal history. . . . A fresh and compelling look at mental illness.”—Kirkus Reviews “[A] darkly ironic tale about an offbeat dysfunctional family.”—Publishers Weekly “Rainbow Rowell devotees, John Green junkies, and fans of This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales will find a lot to love here.”—School Library Journal “[I]mmediately hooks readers . . . Libraries should purchase this for readers looking for something quite out of the ordinary.”—VOYA “Dark, magical, and humorous, this is a quirky and cohesive novel about fear, depression, and obsession with death.”—Booklist “[A] magical take on mental illness that feels very real.”—BustlePraise for Our Chemical Hearts:Indies Introduce Summer 2016 PickAutumn 2016 Kids' Indie Next List – "Inspired Recommendations for Kids from Indie Booksellers"“The most romantic read of the season is an arguably anti-YA story… It’s the complex chemistry between Henry and Grace that touches the heart and doesn’t let go.”—USA Today“The author pulls no punches… emotionally engaging.”—Kirkus Reviews“Eloquently conveying the complexity of love and grief, debut novelist Sutherland creates a story filled with intriguing and memorable characters.”—Publishers Weekly “This much-buzzed-about debut captures the messy, awkward, all-consuming emotions of a teen’s first love.”—Entertainment Weekly, Fall Books Preview“Emotionally complex, funny, filled with well-realized and diverse characters and realistic motivations, Sutherland’s debut will stick with readers.”—Booklist“This magnificent debut from 26-year-old Australian author Krystal Sutherland tracks the unlikely romance of Henry Page and Grace Town, two very different teens chosen to edit their high school paper together…You could probably learn a thing or two from [Henry’s] and Grace’s emotional odyssey.”—Teen Vogue, “October’s Best New YA Books” “This book delves far deeper than the typical high school romance, and its savvy wordplay and Henry’s self-deprecating charm will win over fans of Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower and John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars.”—School Library Journal“Henry is surrounded by well-drawn friends and family, and Grace is a fascinating cipher, in a book that’s anything but a predictable romance.”—B&N Teen, “Most Anticipated October YA Books”“I'm sorry to have to do this to you, but the love story of Henry and Grace is going to kick you in the emotional gut.”—Bustle, “Best New YA Novels Coming in October”“Perhaps one of the most entertaining features of the novel is the irreverent and funny teen banter that masks their deeper feelings. Best of all, though, is the engaging story that unfolds at just the right pace, drawing the reader in as the stakes get higher and decisions must be made.”—VOYA“Henry’s first language is clever, angst-driven wit, and this pair is as sharp and quippy as John Green’s Hazel and Gus … Fans of romance driven by stylized narration are the audience for this.”—BCCB