Optimists Die First by Susin NielsenOptimists Die First by Susin Nielsen

Optimists Die First

bySusin Nielsen

Hardcover | February 21, 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.
SUSIN NIELSEN got her start writing a spec script for the popular television series Degrassi Junior High. She went on to pen sixteen episodes of the hit show and four of the Degrassi books. Since then, she has received two Canadian Screenwriter Awards and a Gemini Award. She has written for many TV series, including Heartland, Arctic A...
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Title:Optimists Die FirstFormat:HardcoverDimensions:240 pages, 8.56 × 5.81 × 0.8 inPublished:February 21, 2017Publisher:TundraLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:177049782X

ISBN - 13:9781770497825

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Thoroughly Enjoyable From Start to Finish “I’m the only child my parents have left.” The death of sixteen-year old Petula De Wilde’s beloved sister has crushed the once active, fun-loving family and Petula’s now convinced that danger lurks at every turn, behind every bush, and across every street; convinced that it’s only a matter of time before the next disaster strikes. She’s given up her crafting and crocheting, pushed away her best friend Rachel, and germaphobia now rules her life. When Jacob, a mysterious newcomer to Petula’s high school joins her art therapy class, her world slowly begins to shift and change. Petula begins to question everything she knew, or thought she knew, about life, love, and fear and gradually comes to understand that sometimes bad things happen to good people. She learns that it’s ok to let go of the guilt, fear, and shame that have been overshadowing her and maybe, just maybe, she can be happy once again. Optimists Die First is a quirky, humorous story that deals with grief, loss, anxiety, and hope in a way that many of us can relate to. Susin Nielsen sensitively addresses issues that can sometimes be difficult to face. She reminds us that we have no idea what people are dealing with in their personal lives and to treat each other with kindness and compassion. Forgiveness comes in many shapes and forms.
Date published: 2017-08-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Funny and Poignant Look at Teenage Grief Review I didn't really know anything about this book when I received it from the Library Thing Early Reviewer program. Petula is sixteen and suffers from anxiety, depression and an compulsive obsession with avoiding potential accidents after the death of her younger sister. She attends an art therapy group with other teenagers that are struggling with their own issues. A new boy from Toronto with a bionic arm befriends the entire group, his own desire to pretend his past doesn't exist driving him to help Petula and the others come to terms with their traumas. Despite being double the protagonists age, I saw aspects of my teenage self in her quite a few times. Like the protagonist, Petula, I also lost a sibling to a stupid freak accident as a teenager and I also struggle with anxiety and depression. I found myself relating heavily to Petula's anxiety-ridden habits, her avoidance of the people and things she used to love, her inability to connect in the ways she used to. The sides of grief that you don't often see in media. The Art Therapy group that Petula goes to was one of my favourite parts. Though none of the kids in it truly want to be there or even like each other, they're all struggling with issues that set them apart from their peers. They're not all likable, but you sympathize with them anyway. At first, Petula isn't able to connect with them, but as Jacob befriends them all, each group member begins to find it easier to relate to the others, to cope with their own traumas and issues. The members of the art therapy group stand out, unique in their characterization even without major focus. I've seen some complaints in reviews that other readers didn't like the tone of the book or didn't like that Petula's relationship with Jacob "cured" her anxiety. I'm usually the first to call these things out but I didn't find them egregious errors in Optimists Die First. I liked the tone a lot; grief is a nebulous, difficult experience and there are moments of levity within the tsunami of anger and sadness. Likewise, I didn't feel that there was some magical boyfriend fix for the way Petula's grief made her feel, in the same way Petula didn't heal the overwhelming guilt felt by Jacob. Having someone who is able to comprehend aspects of your own trauma is a large part of recovery after the death of a loved one, and I think Optimists Die First showed Petula managing a lot of that on her own, or with the help of her friends. Optimists Die First is small in scope, its focus tight on Petula's world, but manages to have a lot to say about loss and grieving. The moments of levity keep the story from dragging or being too depressing despite the heavy subject matter.
Date published: 2017-06-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Not Disappointed Gosh, it's rare that a book makes me actually laugh out loud but there were a few instances in this one that i just couldn't help myself. The characters were likeable and overall it was a quick, easy, enjoyable read
Date published: 2017-05-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyable I loved the cats, the craftiness and the friendships that form in the support group, but with the romance, I did like them together, it just felt like it moved a little faster than would maybe be realistic for someone with her many anxieties. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-04-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Funny and thought-provoking Really enjoyed reading this one. The characters, the plotline, the dialogue. I loved the unique premise. Highly recommend!
Date published: 2017-04-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Too much going on to focus on one thing... For Those Who Enjoyed: All the Bright Places, 10 Things I Can See From Here, Perks of Being a Wallflower Would I select this for publication?: I personally wouldn’t, simply because there’s too much going on. I don’t know where I’m supposed to look. There are far too many characters introduced right away and I can’t tell who I’m supposed to glom on to. Opening chapters should be reserved for the protagonist and because there’s so much going on here, I’m struggling to connect. This opener also makes the mistake of describing what the protagonist is wearing, in detail, from the protagonist’s point of view. I hate this trope. There are better ways to describe characters’ appearances and I just happen to think a protagonist has more important things to do than talk about what everyone’s wearing. It’s a shame, because I think the title is really great and what drew me in in the first place.
Date published: 2017-03-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Hilarious, Laugh out Loud Funny I bought this book just a week ago and as soon as I started it I was hooked. Susin Nielsen weaves together funny characters and a wonderful plot and the result is a spectacular book. It's humorous and has plot twists that I never saw coming. I've already recommended it to multiple of my friends. The only thing that I didn't love was that some parts were a bit lacking in detail, but overall it was an amazing book!
Date published: 2017-03-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Classic Susin Nielsen: Comedy mixed with drama and underdog/misunderstood characters It's a great read from beginning to end. It has lots of funny and sad moments - sometimes in the same sentence... Susin Nielsen uses her quirky characters in tough situations to make the reader think about relationships, mental health and the ripple effects of unlucky or unfortunate mistakes.Some fabulous cameos for those that have read previous books by Susin Nielsen.
Date published: 2017-02-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I really enjoyed this book. A great read for teens and adults. I received an arc of this book. I really enjoyed Optimists Die First. You meet a teenage girl that is terrified of life after the loss of her sister and a guy hiding his own secrets. You place them in an art class with other teens with their own issues and you get a very interesting story. They feel like a group of misfits who are all trying to sort through it all. Then you have the main character Petula that is scared of every freak thing that could happen. It reaches deeper topics and touches on mental health. While this book is sad at times this story will make you laugh and smile. It’s a great story for both teens and adults to learn about the way people are. You mix it all together and you have the perfect amount of teen angst, a little romance, learning to trust and forgiveness.
Date published: 2017-02-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Quality Susin Nielsen! I always enjoy a new Susin Nielsen book and binged this in a single sitting. She has definitely upped her game for older teens with this one. The main theme of this story is guilt and forgiveness and it was so well done! The story is told with humour and sadness in equal measure with quirky, interesting characters and cats, too.
Date published: 2017-02-21
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Cute, quick, heartfelt read A short but interesting read. I particularly loved all the Vancouver references peppered throughout the book!
Date published: 2017-02-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from THIS IS A PERFECT BOOK I was giving a ARC - MY OPINIONS AND THOUGHTS ARE MY OWN AND RIGHT** This book gave me so many feelings. This is a great book for readers who need books to have less pages and words. That they are looking for something that is a quick read, however, will make them laugh, give a feel teary and emotional moments. This book is a group of Misfits that are attending art threapy for recovering and taking steps to move forward from a tramatizing experience. There are many experiences in the book that anyone can relate too. This is also a love story. Two people trying to heal from their past, and learning how to go on everyday without fearing what they lose. There is moments about marriage and broken firendships and buidlings of friendships that are complicated but work.This story was close to the heart. This book takes place in Vancouver and mentions Toronto. Also cats. No one can resist cats. I reccomend any teachers/ parents who are looking a books for recluant readers bc this book can be for any reader.
Date published: 2017-02-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from VERY WELL DONE!!! I received an advanced copy of this book and have not been able to put it down. Well done!!! The writing of this book was so smooth it was easy to follow. Each character was developed. Each chapter blended nicely into the next. The book did not seem to miss a beat. I will be now passing this book to my 14 year old as I think this would be a great read for any teen.
Date published: 2017-02-06

Editorial Reviews

SELECTION - CBC Most Anticipated Books of 2017PRAISE FOR Optimists Die First:"Nielsen writes with sensitivity, empathy, and humor, believably lightening Petula’s constant efforts to cope . . . Another lovely outing from Nielsen." --Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews"[A] compelling, precociously paranoid protagonist and a bevy of wisecracking, heartwarming characters. But perhaps the novel’s greatest strength is its handling of the characters’ very real burdens with sympathy, wit, and not an ounce of melodrama." --Starred Review, School Library Journal"Grief and guilt permeate Nielsen’s (We Are All Made of Molecules) empathic and deeply moving story, balanced by sharply funny narration and dialogue . . . Readers will be riveted by Petula’s rocky attempts to repair damaged relationships with her parents and a friend she drove away, connect with the members of [her youth art group], and open herself up to the idea of romance with Jacob." --Starred Review, Publishers Weekly"[A] humorous, heart-breaking account of grief-induced anxiety."--The Guardian"Nielsen’s a snappy, smart writer and this story fairly bowls along, enlivened by its savvy references to movies and actors, weird craft ideas, humour and inventive film projects." --The Toronto Star"[S]imultaneously laugh-out-loud funny and raw and tragic, allowing for it to feel totally human." --Bustle