Optimists Die First – book review

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Optimists Die First
by Susin Nielsen
Realistic Fiction
* * * * Stars (Great!)

Petula blames herself for the death of her younger sister, Maxine. Since she died Petula has become an anxious, germophobic, pessimist who tries to protect herself from the bad stuff by being prepared and expecting the worst. She’s alienated her former friends and seems destined to live out her days in solitary misery. Then Jacob Cohen walks into her life. He’s also working through some issues and ends up being in Petula’s youth art therapy group. With persistence and kindness (not to mention a physical presence to which Petula is wildly attracted) he gradually pulls Petula out of her grief spiral and gives her something to live for. The Jacob effect is just as strong on the other members of their group, allowing them to face and confront their demons, make amends when necessary, and move on. Petula finds herself so in love that she overlooks some warning signs – like how secretive Jacob is about his own past. When the truth finally does out, everything breaks – including Petula’s heart. A charming realistic read with flawed characters who are dealing with all kinds of issues (grief, guilt, addiction, regret, loss).

Reviewed by YA Librarian