Read Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen Online


Petula has avoided friendship and happiness ever since tragedy struck her family and took her beloved younger sister Maxine. Worse, Petula blames herself. If only she'd kept an eye on her sister, if only she'd sewn the button Maxine choked on better, if only... Now her anxiety is getting out of control, she is forced to attend the world’s most hopeless art therapy class. BPetula has avoided friendship and happiness ever since tragedy struck her family and took her beloved younger sister Maxine. Worse, Petula blames herself. If only she'd kept an eye on her sister, if only she'd sewn the button Maxine choked on better, if only... Now her anxiety is getting out of control, she is forced to attend the world’s most hopeless art therapy class. But one day, in walks the Bionic Man: a charming, amazingly tall newcomer called Jacob, who is also an amputee. Petula's ready to freeze him out, just like she did with her former best friend, but when she’s paired with Jacob for a class project, there’s no denying they have brilliant ideas together – ideas like remaking Wuthering Heights with cats.But Petula and Jacob each have desperately painful secrets in their pasts – and when the truth comes out, there’s no way Petula is ready for it....

Title : Optimists Die First
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781783445073
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 272 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Optimists Die First Reviews

  • Cait (Paper Fury)
    2019-02-22 18:13

    While this book had a ton of cute, quirky, and relatable things going for it (hello crafting and cat videos and yelling at people who see the movie but don't read the book) kind of lost all its charm for me at the portrayal of anxiety. Like I thought this book would be about an anxious person, but Petula is WAY WAY WAY paranoid, but it's written in a really glib "funny" way to make anxiety seem quirky and not, ya know, something serious. I'm personally reeeeally tired of books that want to make mental health issues all funky and quirky BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT.But! Obviously for me, I didn't like the style choices here or the way the anxiety was portrayed/handled but my experience with anxiety disorders is not everyone's. So go for this book if you want! Just be aware that Petula does appear to be able to "turn off" her anxiety and she gets out of her funk because of a boooooy.A BOY. IT'S ALWAYS A BOY. WHY.Ahem.But like I said! There is still quite a lot to like! I thought the mum's crazy cat lady thing going on was great, and how Petula and Jacob ended up filming cat videos, and how they named the cats after book characters. And when Petula wasn't being insufferably selfish about her own pain and assuming the world didn't experience pain too, she was really quite fun to read about! I liked her narration voice. And like she was immature, but she was just turned 16 and I sure as heck was immature at 16 too. Although maybe not that much. Like every time she mentions her ex-best friend, it's all "THE GIRL WHO USED TO BE MY FRIEND BUT NOW IS NOT" that's the girl's title. Chill, woman.Also the romance was kind of cute! No instalove! No rushing! Jacob has a bionic arm so that was some nice amputee representation there. Although I was a bit unsure about how Petula spent like 3 chapters calling him "The Bionic Man" his amputated arm was the only thing she saw about him??? Is that not really shallow??? Also (view spoiler)[I thought it was seriously rich how Petula wouldn't forgive Jacob for being the drunk driver that killed his friend. She was responsible for her baby sister when she died??? Like neither of them intentionally tried to kill people they loved, but they BOTH WERE INVOLVED. The guilt, of course, is terrible and crushing and I felt for them both. And obviously Petula just put Maxine down for a nap while Jacob made the actual choice to drive a car drunk. So it's different. But I still don't get why Petula had 0% compassion. I actually don't think they'd stay together after the book ends and I hope they don't because Petula was really shallow. (hide spoiler)]And like I said...the anxiety representation?? ERMMMM. It totally basically disappears towards the end of the book. Because A BOY.And the absolute biggest most unbelievable thing was how Petula got glitter tipped on her head in the first chapter. But did she complain about it after that ever because glitter never ever ever truly leaves you?? NO. WHAT A MISTAKE ON THIS BOOK'S BEHALF. I've still got glitter on me from 9 years ago when I did a craft once.ALL IN ALL: I wouldn't call this a bad book, but it kind of wasn't for me. It was a bit young-feeling, the characters a bit shallow, and the anxiety totally unrealistic. I mean, it wasn't just pessimism, it was absurdism and catastrophism and, like books are wont to do, blew everything to the maximum extreme for a "funny story". I didn't find it funny. I like mental illness books WITH HUMOUR not mental illness books that make the illness the humour. But hey! Cat videos and crafting and it's set in Canada! And no one is a moose! Amazing!

  • Hailey (HaileyinBookland)
    2019-03-11 20:17

    2.5*A good story, just not for me. I didn't care for the characters, the plot moved way too fast. I don't know I was just bored!

  • Tatiana
    2019-03-17 19:08

    There is nothing original about this story. Nothing at all. You've read it before. You'll know the "twist" from the start.But, some books with unoriginal plots just have more life in them. I liked the narrative voice, I liked the humor, the cats, the crafts, the characters. Susin Nielsen must have a better book in her. Surely her charm can be applied to a better/newer story? I'll check out more of her writing.

  • Jen Ryland
    2019-03-04 22:52

    Serious mixed feelings. On the positive side, I really, really related to Petula's situation. A terrible family tragedy has made her fearful and wary. I'm not a therapist (and she's not real) but it seemed to me that her grief and guilt triggered (or worsened) some underlying anxiety/OCD - she's severely germaphobic and has intrusive thoughts about more bad things happening.I'm not familiar with this author, but at times this book felt to me a little like a Canadian Sarah Dessen - troubled protagonist, troubled love interest, strong emphasis on family, and a very coherent and heavily thematic plot. There were lovely moments that charmed and moved me.On the negative side, sometimes a book with a lot of themes can seem heavy-handed. At times I thought this book read a little younger than YA, but then it had sex scenes (very sex positive, though.)The story centers around her art therapy group, which fits perfectly into the book's crafting theme but I kept wondering if glue and glitter was the extent of Petula's treatment? It seems to me she needed a "real" therapist and maybe even some medication.The other issue I had with the story was the way that tragedy and whimsy was mixed together, which didn't always work for me. Petula's mother copes with tragedy by adopting a lot of cats, which I found alarming (I'm severely allergic) yet believable. The main character and the love interest are assigned to do a project together (of course!) and decide to make a movie about Wuthering Heights starring cats and then are angry that the teacher thinks their project is weird and disrespectful.I think that was my main issue with this book - it has a tragicomic sensibility that didn't really resonate with me. I found it really jarring that the book would seem to be tackling a serious subject, like OCD or horrible, life-altering guilt, and then suddenly inject odd whimsy into things. Sometimes Petula's OCD would be dealt with sympathetically, but other times it seemed like it (and she) was being made fun of, like the fact that she keeps a scrapbook of strange, random ways that people have died. She's not compiling entries for the Darwin Awards -- she actually finds the randomness of life and death completely and utterly terrifying. Another time a character was telling a really moving story and then in the middle of it, felt compelled to mention that at the time of the story he was on his way to a bath store called ... Skip to My Loo. The mix of joking and seriousness might work for other readers with different sensibilities, but it was disconcerting to me. Read more of my reviews on YA Romantics or follow me on Bloglovin

  • Maria (Big City Bookworm)
    2019-03-05 18:54

    An ARC of Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen was provided to me by Goodreads through their first reads program. This does not effect my opinion in any way.--Actual Rating: 3.5 Stars--This was the first ever book I have won through the Goodreads First Reads program and words cannot describe how excited I was when I was told that I had won! Optimists Die First had been a book that was on my radar for a little while and I was so excited that I was finally going to be able to read it! I hadn’t read anything by Susin Nielsen yet and I was hoping that this novel would be a great start for me to get into her writing!--What I LikedThe writing style. I really enjoyed the way this book was written. It was just a beautiful way of writing, I’m not really sure how else to explain it. It was fast paced and flowed really nicely.The side-characters. I feel like I enjoyed reading about the side-characters more than I did about Petula. There was just something about them that was more compelling. Each of them had their own demons that they had to live with and it was great to slowly learn about them as the story moved forward. I would have really liked to learn more about them though. As mentioned, this story was very fast-paced and quite short in length, therefore it focused mostly on Petula and Jacob.A touch of Canada. This story takes place in Vancouver, British Columbia and it also mentions little bits of Toronto, Ontario which was fantastic! It made little nods to all things Canadian, like timbits, the AGO and the ROM. It was fun to read something that takes place in the country that I’m from and to be able to pick up on little things like that. --What I Didn’t LikeInsta-love. Unfortunately, due to the quick pace and the short length of this novel, the romance between Petula and Jacob felt a little too insta-love for me. I understand that in reality spending all of this time together would probably have led to these two characters realizing that they had feelings for one another, but I just wish we could have seen it develop a little more.Originality? I can’t say that this story felt very original for me personally. I have read a lot of books that deal with the social issues that are brought to life in this story, and while they are completely important topics and there should be many books, especially for teens, that deal with these topics…I just don’t think this one brought anything new to the table. It didn’t really “wow” me as much as some others have.--While Optimists Die First a tad underwhelming, I can see why so many people love the writing of Susin Nielsen. It really was written beautifully and I can’t wait to get my hands on some of her other work!--Initial post reading thoughts:I really enjoyed this book! It was a quick and fast paced read that I breezed through fairly quickly and I had no idea it was going to take place in Canada so that was an added bonus! While this book was a quick one, it also managed to deal with quite a few different important social issues. I enjoyed each of the characters and their friendships with one another!

  • Inge
    2019-03-14 21:56

    Oh man, this book. I'm so glad I requested this book.Optimists Die First is not a very long story, but that's not the only reason why I read it in one take. From the very first page, in which the author dedicates the book to her fellow crazy cat ladies, I was hooked. Even before that, when I read the title on NetGalley, I was hooked.There were so many things where I felt like someone had cast a magnifying glass upon me and wrote a book about it: volunteering at a cat shelter and wanting to take every single cat home, having major anxiety and anxious thoughts about pretty much everything (although Petula did take it a step further than I did), and connections to Belgium are just a few reasons why I so much connected to the story. I could really relate, and this is why diversity in fiction is so important. I read mental health stories for awareness, but also to find comfort in the idea that I'm not alone.I felt like the book only really grazed the surface of many issues dealt with, failing to go deeper, but that also allowed a certain lightness to stay on board despite all the heavy topics. Nevertheless, I really liked Optimists Die First. The cast was really diverse, it deals with a lot of powerful topics, and there were a lot of cats.Thank you NetGalley / Penguin Random House UK Children's for providing me with a copy

  • Tink Magoo is bad at reviews
    2019-02-26 21:08

    Behind the cat poop, crochet vests, bionic arms and quirky array of characters this book had so much heart and I honestly feel like this could help a lot of people. Guilt can ruin people's lives and unless you've experienced that it's hard to understand.There wasn't any teen drama or mean bitches, which makes a nice change in this genre. Every single one of the seemingly outlandish characters grew through the story and were made relatable thanks to the humorous writing. Even if you don't look as deep into this as much I did, it's still a funny age appropriate story.I loved everything about it (but especially Petula). *There IS sex in this book, but it is not descriptive*

  • Maddie (Heart Full Of Books)
    2019-02-25 22:07

    This book was short, sweet, and a teeny-tiny bit heartbreaking. It reminded me of Jeff Zentner's work, and that is literally the highest praise coming from me. Petula was a really cool character, with her love of craft, all her phobias and the masses of cats that spill from the pages. The one issue I had with Optimists Die First, (and it's not even an issue really, because I didn't enjoy the book any less), is that the characters seemed like they were 12-13 years old in one chapter, and 17 the next. If this was classified as a Middle Grade, I may have loved it even more, but the relationship between Petula and Jacob felt very mature in comparison. I really liked how each character's mysterious past and hidden secrets were unravelled, and how it's mostly a story of learning to live with what's happened in your past, in order to be optimistic about the future! Would recommend!

  • Erin Clemence
    2019-02-28 19:01

    Petula is a 16 year old girl who has shut herself off from the world after the death of her younger sister. Petula reluctantly attends counseling and art therapy classes with an eccentric group of misfits she feels she has nothing in common with. When Petula meets Jacob, the boy with the “bionic arm”, she slowly starts to trust again and begins to let the world back in. However, when she learns the truth about Jacob she is forced to decide if she can love a liar- even if the liar saved her life. This is the premise of the novel, “Optimists Die First” by Canadian author, Susin Nielsen. Susin makes no apologies for being Canadian and waves her True North hard and proud throughout the novel (nods to Tim Horton’s, the sights and sounds of Toronto and- oh yeah- she used to work on the set of “Degrassi”. One cannot get more Canadian than that!) and I will give Ms. Nielsen full on props for that. “Optimists” is a young adult novel about two teenagers who have suffered great loss and realize that they can heal themselves by being with each other. It is a premise done many times before(in fact, John Green has become quite successful with this)however this novel also has some creativity to it. Petula’s parental struggles are honest and real, and her on-again and off-again relationship with her former friend Rachel speaks to an understanding of the teenaged psyche. This novel was short- I literally read it in a day and a half- but it also kept my interest through its entirety. I wished there had been more to the ending(it speaks to a sequel. How original. *sigh*)as I was left unfilled, however the characters were flawed and sassy without being overly petulant or whiny. Ms. Nielsen includes a wide array of multicultural characters, which adds a bit of realism to the novel as well. The author is definitely in touch with the adolescent mind, and has been able to make a great connection between characters and reader. A great, quick read for fans of young adult fiction who are looking for a new author to watch!

  • Grace (BURTSBOOKS)
    2019-03-06 17:59

    Optimists die first is a forgettable, unoriginal, tropey YA romance. I would give a synopsis but I can barely remember a thing about what went down in this book. Maybe that’s my fault for waiting over a month to write a review but isn’t the point of a book to leave a lasting effect? I usually write reviews 6 months later and I’ve literally never had this problem before. I don’t have a photographic memory or anything, those other books were simply just doing their job better. When I was reading this I didn’t think it was a particularly bad book I just felt like I’ve read it a million times before. The 'boy fixes girl' trope is over done and annoyingly offensive and unrealistic, not to mention it’s been done in more captivating ways. I wouldn’t recommend this one, solely because there are so many other books to be reading. P.S. The cats were good. I liked the cats.******Edit**** Yeah, hi. So I’ve been thinking a lot about anxiety lately. Or more importantly anxiety rep and how it sucks. Before I started researching anxiety rep in books I didn’t even realize this book was considered a “mental health” book. Apparently this is a book about anxiety. Which yes on a base level I realized that the main character has some skewed quirky paranoia that is labeled as anxiety. I just didn’t realize this could actually be labeled as rep. I didn’t realize people who don’t have anxiety would go into this book expecting to have a better understanding of the illness after they were finished reading. I didn’t realize that I, as someone with anxiety was supposed to feel comforted and/or relate to this book. The anxiety in this book is a joke. Not as in it's written badly(which it is) but as in it is made into a joke. According to Susin Nielson, anxiety is apparently something quirky and relatable and fucking hilarious. Petula’s (the main character) unrealistic worries are made to be something outlandish and over dramatic and it is apparently supposed to be funny. Like I said in my first review I don’t remember much about this book but I do remember Petula taking a different route to school to avoid a construction site every morning because she was worried about getting injured. This comes up several times in the book and eventually the love interest (of course) gets her walk by the construction site and she realizes how silly she was and blah blah blah. Petula’s fear of this construction sight is the joke. You are supposed to laugh at her and all the time she takes out of her day to make sure she doesn’t die while walking by. The reason I remember this specific part of the book so well is because I am that person. I’m the girl that will take the longer route to avoid a construction site or a particularly strange looking store or even just a strange looking tree and I found It really offensive that 1) this was made into a joke and 2) apparently walking by it fixed everything. I’ve walked by construction sites when I couldn’t avoid it, that doesn’t make the fear disappear and it didn’t fucking cure me. Petula’s anxiety is there simply as something quirky about her. This book isn’t even about her recovery. It isn’t her paranoia she has to get over it’s her tragic back story. If she gets over that than her anxiety will go away and she will be fixed. Which is shit. Anxiety isn’t curable and I’m sick of YA authors pretending it is. No guy is going to change that. Someone telling me that I will be okay isn’t going to make me believe it no matter how good looking that someone is. I’m not saying I can’t find humour in anxiety because sometimes I’m so unrealistically scared it’s hilarious. It’s okay to laugh at ourselves, sometimes that’s all you really can do but when someone else is making fun of that same thing it hurts. The thought of someone reading this book who doesn’t have anxiety or an understanding of it and laughing or thinking this is what anxiety is honestly makes me sick. I don’t care about the story or if can remember any of it. This is what can be picked up from the first 30 pages. Anxiety is made in a joke of the back of the damn book. Even if this was a beautiful story and not an overdone trope it wouldn’t change the negative stereotypes it perpetuates and I’m so sick of it. I’m sick of mental health books written by people who have no idea what they’re talking about. So yeah, this probably made no sense but I’m honestly too pissed to care. I’m changing this to 2 stars instead of 3. That’s all good bye. **** I realize this is pretty harsh but as expressed I’m really annoyed. My experience’s with anxiety are of course not the be all end all of anxiety, so if you connected to this book in anyway please just ignore me. I’m happy that you’ve found something you can relate to. ****For good rep of anxiety read They Both Die at the End or Six of Crows... yes Six of Crows... Kaz Brekker.. the legend... the myth.... the icon... his PTSD had me in tears. It was the most relatable thing I ever read about.

  • Melanie (TBR and Beyond)
    2019-03-08 01:17

    “Either they were stupid, or they were optimists. Most likely both. "I will outlive you all," I muttered under my breath.” Optimists Die First is quirky, funny and at times heartbreaking. I enjoyed this one much more than I had expected I would. I've heard really mixed ones on this, I know some people think the mental illness rep is bad but I didn't personally feel that. I should start by saying that I have suffered from PTSD, depression and severe anxiety for a lot of my life, so I take mental illness rep seriously. However, I don't think everything needs to be serious, it can have a lighter way of going about telling the story and still be valid. I actually related to our main character, Petula fairly well. She had been through a trauma when she lost her baby sister and now she is overly paranoid and has a phobia about death/illness. She is not really dealing with any of her issues and doesn't really have any friends until she joins an Art Therapy class and basically meets her people. She might find a pretty adorable love interest in the class as well. One of the complaints I've heard is that Petula is seen as just a quirky girl and people love her for it. That's just not true - she has no friends and has ruined the one real friendship she had. There aren't people tripping over themselves to hang out with this girl and they aren't in the end either. It just happens that she goes to a class where she meets other people that are struggling. No, they aren't struggling with the same subjects but they have isolated themselves and been outcasted in some way. That made complete sense to me and gave me some hope for kids that are going through these kind of things. I loved Petula's sense of humor, most people you meet that struggle with mental illness will likely make some pretty sarcastic and dark jokes about things. They are allowed, they earned it. It's how you survive, it's not being disrespectful and it's not making light of anything. I appreciated seeing that side of the character and again rang really true to me. Yes, there are some maybe less realistic things but this is still a story and the plot has to move along. I adore the relationship that blossomed between Petula and Jacob. It made me root for them so hard. They were very flawed characters but their relationship seemed so real and genuine. This book isn't totally light though, there are moments in this book that broke my heart slightly. The ending wasn't hearts and roses - it was uncertainty but again that felt more realistic. The only reason I rated this four stars and not five is because the constant mention of cat poop drove me nuts lol I know that is being picky but I can't only read about it so many times!! I recommend checking this one out and seeing if it relates for you at all. It's very short, so you'll have no trouble knocking this book out in a couple of hours.

  • Kels
    2019-03-12 19:00

    Certainly not the worst YA book I've picked up, but I still found it mediocre in every way. I wasn't a fan of the writing style, all the characters fell flat for me, and the overall execution, I thought, was uninspired and lackluster. I'm aware that Susin Nielsen is far from being an amateur writer, so I'm surprised at how "debut novel" this came off to me.

  • Caitlin Christensen
    2019-02-21 00:08

    If the title wasn’t enough, the ugly-sweater cover made this a must-read for me. I went in expecting a lot of dark humor and a host of quirky characters, and Optimists Die First did NOT disappoint. This is a very unique book with a whole host of strange little quirks, and I have to admit that I enjoyed pretty much every minute of it. There are going to be reviewers who have problems with this book, and I think that’s the case for almost any book dealing with mental illness, grief, and other heavy topics. I don’t think this is a perfect portrayal of mental illness in general, but I also understand that everyone’s journey and illness is different. Petula, for me, used humor as a shield, and it worked for her. Yes, she has a pretty extreme paranoia disorder, and I think that can come across as “fake” but I thought it felt authentic for her to be where she was at. She took her fears of losing those she loved and turned them onto things she could control (like avoiding construction sites or elevators or other “dangerous” things. Her character feels immature, but that was alright as she’s only 16 and I don’t think every YA book out there needs to have a teenage protagonist who thinks on a fully-mature-adult level. Her voice really worked for her, and it felt totally authentic to me. Maybe I’m becoming a crazy cat-lady but I really enjoyed the cat-obsession Petula’s mom was using to deal with her grief. The fact that she just keeps bringing home cats really amused me, and I loved even more the fact that they named all the cats after book characters. Then, when Jacob and Petula start making literary videos starring said cats, it was just hilarious and perfect. That being said, my biggest criticism of this book is that there is an inordinate amount of talk about cat-poop. I didn’t really understand why, and it wasn’t quirky so much as… weird? Sad? Strange? All of the above? I love my cats, but I never feel like talking about my cats’ poop to that degree. So, yeah… That was weird. But other than that, I really loved this heartfelt little book… The characters are interesting, the love story builds slowly and wonderfully, and the storyline itself, while a lot lighter than I expected for so many serious topics, was welcome. A great book for anyone looking for a laugh and a feel-good read.Find me and my reviews on and on instagram.

  • Laurie • The Baking Bookworm
    2019-03-12 22:56

    3.5 STARS - Last year I was introduced to Canadian author Susin Nielsen's work when I read We Are All Made of Molecules (a truly fabulous, hilarious, heart-felt book which I highly recommend). When I heard that she had a new book out it was a no-brainer that I'd do anything to get my hands on a copy.In Optimists Die First, Nielsen focuses her story on Petula who suffers from such a high level of anxiety that she worries about everything. The reason for her heightened anxieties are slowly revealed to the reader but meanwhile she tries to cope the best ways she can - which include participating in a peer support group and its quirky, diverse group of characters who form a unique bond with each other.The first half of the book I was taken in by the characters and witnessing Petula's daily struggle with her multiple phobias. But the second half, where 'teen love conquers all', held my attention less. Petula's severe and multiple anxieties seemed to be lessened not as much by therapy but by the love of a good man and I take issue with that. Petula also seemed to overcome her deep-seated anxieties a little too easily and with this being a rather short book there wasn't page time to delve deeper into some of the teen anxiety issues that were raised. That's a shame because Nielsen approaches teen issue with such sensitivity.Overall, this was a good read. It touches on serious topics that affect today's teens - teen mental health, grief, guilt, loss, teen sex (in a very positive way), friendship - all with a cast of quirky, off-beat characters and some good twists for the reader.

  • Pinky
    2019-02-28 23:04

    It's been a long while since I have read an actual book/written a review. School has taken over my life, I spend most of my days stressed out and studying. Luckily, I managed to read this in between my classes. This is my fourth year in the book club called White Pine at my school, and this is one of the books that are in that club. Optimists Die First was an entertaining read, but it definitely wasn't one of my favourites. It didn't leave an impression on me, it wasn't very different from other YA contemporary novels that I have read and the plot was very predictable. That being said, I still had moments where I laughed.Most of the time though, I felt like this: This book is about a pessimistic girl named Petula who chose to shut herself out from the world after a terrible tragedy that took place in her family. After meeting Jacob, she slowly starts to open up and think that life isn't as bad as she though. But Jacob has secrets of his own that he is hiding from Petula, making him untrustworthy. Is he really as good as he perceives himself to be?“Okay, even if we disagree on that point, we still need to keep living our lives, don't we?...” /> I really liked Petula as a character at first because I related to her in so many different ways. Petula and I think alike, we are very cautious outside of our homes. Whenever I am walking on the streets and I see people listening to music on the streets, I feel scared for them. What if they can't hear the sound of a horn when a car is about to hit them? I have recently started listening to music on the streets but my music volume is very low, so that I am aware of my surroundings. I feel like everyone around me is out to get me, so I stay away from as many people as possible, avoiding conversations and eye contact. Sometimes I'll hide in the washroom, wait everyone clears the hallway at my school and then head to class. I know it's weird, but it's nice to read about a character who does the same things that I do. I would laugh at the ridiculous things that Petula would say, but at the same time I get why she is the way that she is. Jacob was an okay character, he was very outgoing and helped Petula out a lot. But I found his "back-story" or "mysterious past" to be very predictable. I knew why he was hiding his past because it must have been something that portrays him in a negative light. I was waiting for the big plot twist/story, hoping that I was wrong, but I was right. And I sat in class while my mind was going crazy, screaming "THAT'S IT?!" I felt that Jacob should not have played a HUGE role in Petula's transformation. It's such a cliche in YA novels to have a girl who is broken and then suddenly, a good-looking boy takes interest in her and helps her change and helps fix her. I don't know, I hate this trope and when my friend described this book, I knew instantly that I wasn't going to love this book. I did find it to be a quick read, even though I was interrupted a multiple amount of times. But there's nothing I can do about it -_- Anyway, I did enjoy this book but it was very predictable and had a lot of YA tropes. Since I have read many YA novels, I am getting tired of seeing the same thing in every contemporary book that i read. I have been in a huge reading slump and one part of that is because of my studies, but the other is probably because of the fact that I am hesitant about picking up novels because I don't want to be disappointed. Anyway, I'll be off again, and hopefully I'm back with more reviews. I'm really sad because it's another year and I haven't finished my reading goal. :(

  • Maha Haggouch
    2019-03-01 00:15

    i received a free digital copy thanks to the publisher + netgalley. this does not affect my point of view in any way.DNF.i'm were many reasons why i decided to DNF (or DO NOT FINISH) this book. first of all, i appreciate the plot having all the mental illness representation, but i felt from the first page that it was going to be romanticized. anxiety here felt too forced, and it didn't seem like it was going to have any role in the story. not only that but the plot felt a little...too fast. like, even after 1254 things happening in the book, i still can't remember the main character's name.also, there was this:"Alonzo was in Crafting for Crazies because he tried to kill himself after he came out to hist ultra-religious family and they kicked him out of the house."and then a little after:"Koula scowled.'Shut up, you fag.' 'Eat me, you skank.' Then they started laughing. Alonzo pulled her close and hugged her. I could not begin to understand their friendship.ummm...excuse me?i can't EVEN imagine someone getting kicked out of the house after coming out to his parents, entering YOUNG ART THERAPY (which is a little therapy club in the book), and certainly getting called insults from other people at his school, would be okay with him being called "fag" (let's not forget that they were FRIENDS and they were LAUGHING). this is so...problematic?i'm sorry (not really), but after that i couldn't even finish the chapter. i'm just no no no.

  • Kirsty
    2019-03-04 20:06

    Oh man this book. I have never personally related to a character so much. Petula worries about everything making worst case scenerio plans for everything. I can so easily identify with this as I do the same all the time my logic being actually if I plan for the worst things are never actually going to end up as bad as I've planned for. Petula does take it to another level but I get her. I also love that she crafts and knits and spends her time making random quirky things to keep her busy. I love the relationship that develops with Jacob over the course of the book and how he helps to bring Petula back into the world after she shut so much out after the death of her younger sister. A beautiful ead about heartbreak and loss which I thoroughly enjoyed.

  • Stacee
    2019-02-28 21:11

    I was instantly intrigued by the title and cover, but once I read the synopsis, I was sold. Petula is quirky. I was 100% on board with her scrapbook and obsessions, even though they weren't healthy. There are a lot of odd characters, but they're all genuinely good people that I was easy to root for them. The plot was engaging and I was definitely waiting for the other to drop. And sure, the constant mention of cat poop and crocheted items were something I could have done without, yet somehow it all worked. Overall, it was a little heartbreaking, a little funny, and a whole lot of weird and a whole lot of heart.**Huge thanks to Wendy Lamb books and NetGalley for providing the arc free of charge**

  • Macarena Yannelli
    2019-02-25 17:17

    Fue difícil conectar con la protagonista de esta historia, pero si fue fácil conectar con su grupo de amigos y aprender a quererla a través de ellos. Todos estos chicos tienen algún problema y juntos intentarán mejorar, mientras, la protagonista comienza a descubrir cosas sobre el chico del grupo que le gusta.

  • Dylan
    2019-03-07 18:11

    I was NOT expecting to love this as much as I did!I REALLY loved the representation (main character has anxiety & OCD, and love interest is a amputee), and I love Nielsen's writing as usual. I'm not giving this a full five stars because of the love interest. When Petula had something going on with her OCD, he seemed very rude and negative towards her. I would highly recommend this!

  • Sarah {Literary Meanderings}
    2019-02-18 18:15

    I laughed and I cried. Amazing! Full review to come.

  • Claire (bookscoffeeandrepeat)
    2019-03-07 00:17

    2.5/5A story about grief and forgiveness.My full review can be found in my book blog. Please check it out, thanks!**Huge thanks to the publisher for approving my request to read this book in exchange for an honest review

  • Eline
    2019-03-17 17:19

    Dat was zo mooi. Ik ben helemaal gelukkig vanbinnen. Dit had ik even nodig.

  • Alessandra Crivelli
    2019-03-03 17:15

    I FINALLY WROTE THE FULL REVIEW (CLICK HERE)Thank you to the publisher for sending me an e-arc through netgalley. This won't change my review in any way.3.8 STARS"Optimists die first" is a story about grief, mental health, disability and guilt but it is also a story about the willing to take back the control of your life. What happened to this book? I don't even know how I read this book so fast. I loved Petula so much and I could really related into; Petula suffers of big anxiety attacks due (most of them) to her little sister's death -- she died sucking a botton on her costume while she was sleeping and Petula was babysitting --- after the event Petula started avoid any situation who can put her in danger like take the elevator or walking in a certain street. This book is written in such a pleasure way and even if it deals with heavy themes (anxiety, grief, guilt) it never loses a light tone. I didn't even realize that I was at the end of this book. Petula is such a treasure and fresh character, I related to her in so many ways especially when she is so depressed and start to judge every person who lives different from her. That was so me in my teens but I tend currently behave like that in really dark times. There is also disable representation with Jacob who has a bionic arm due to a car accident and he also brings a survivor guilt -- so the chemistry with Petula was a sure thing from the start! If you want to read something simple and fast, this is the book for you. I loved it so much! Thank you again for grant me a copy.

  • Lisa
    2019-03-02 18:04

    This book is raw yet laugh-out-loud funny. It's about letting go of fear and guilt and replacing it with hope. These are the YA contemporaries I live for. Also there are cats with literary names. I MEAN COME ON

  • Cordelianne
    2019-03-03 22:13

    This was a quick read, but very weird at times... I did love the fact that the relationship was not instalove, but that they became friends first. Because of this the story felt more real!

  • Erin W
    2019-03-02 21:55


  • Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)
    2019-02-27 22:18

    You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight Most of this book was awesome. This was unputdownable- I read the entire thing without even getting up once. That is not something that ever happens, but I was just so into this book that I couldn't stop. Plus it is shorter, and paced well, so that helps. Anyway, let's move onto the good stuff, shall we?What I Liked:First, Petula isn't at the most severe end of her mental illness- she's clearly still struggling, but she isn't at her worst; she's already begun to heal a bit. I think that's important to note. I do think that her anxieties and her fixations were quite realistically depicted. She thought things during the book that I had to stop and think "wow, so I am not the only one who thinks that too!", and frankly, it made me feel less alone.To that end, the humor in the book was really great. I know not everyone will agree with that, but I think that Petula was far enough along in her recovery process that the humor really worked in the story. It made the dark moments a little less painful, and I think it really brought the therapy group together, too. Had they not been willing to share those weird moments, they may never have ended up being close- and that helped them all, really. And the characters in the therapy group were all quite wonderful, too. They all were well fleshed out, diverse, and brought a lot of insight to the group and to Petula.I thought the family dynamic was well portrayed and quite honest . These people have been through absolute hell. They care about each other, but they also each have their own demons. I loved how much both parents clearly cared about Petula, even though they weren't always perfect and dealing with their own stuff. Petula had a defined, healthy relationship with each of her parents, and that to me was a huge win.The romance was fun, and I liked it, for the most part. We'll get into why I didn't fully in a minute, but at the start, I did enjoy it. Jacob was funny, and he really created a sense of camaraderie in the therapy group. Plus, their relationship eventually lead Petula to have some very positive sex talk moments with her mom, which is definitely refreshing. In fact, during the book, I didn't really see Jacob as "curing" Petula, he just happened to be a good influence in her life at a time that she was already kind of on a precipice of change for herself.What I Didn't:So here we are. The "one thing" I couldn't get past in the book. I will tell you what it is, but I can't go into details unless it is under a spoiler tag. So anyway, at some point, Jacob enters the "savior" role. I hadn't seen him in that capacity, but apparently, he was. Now, I will explain further, but it's spoilery, so read at your own discretion.(view spoiler)[When Petula finds out some unsettling info about Jacob, the group tries to talk her into forgiving him. He had lied to her, but I think forgiveness could have been achieved. Anyway, I was with them, when they talked about how he brought something special to the group and such, but then they legit called Petula out, saying things like "You were this paranoid little freak. Constantly dousing yourself in hand sanitizer. Leading this narrow, sad little life." or "You were weird, Petula." And my personal favorite (sarcasm) "Jacob resuscitated you." And then the "counselor" AGREED. WHAT!??!!? WHAT THE WHAT!? I was so angry, because I felt like all the GOOD that the book had done had been erased by these few pages of dialogue.(hide spoiler)]The significant other as a savior thing has always bothered me, especially in mental health books, because I just can't get past the message that it could send, especially to someone who is suffering from a mental illness. I'd never want someone to think that they're doomed to be suffering forever because some cute love interest didn't waltz into their life. Bottom Line: I am really torn here. I loved this book. Until this one thing, it was headed to a really high rating. I won't completely trash the rating, especially for just this one fault (though for me personally, it is quite a bit one).

  • Madison
    2019-03-16 23:17

    Optimists Die First is a mildly depressing book. It has an honest and gritty tone, so realistic of the circumstances in which the characters find themselves. This in-your-face honesty is perfect for the theme of this book - trust, family, and somehow coping with the guilt of mistakes that shake your world. This book also involves an abundance of cats, cat videos, and crafting addictions - you have been warned. Petula knows death is lurking around every corner. She is a pessimist and she knows her vigilance will keep her alive longer. She wasn't always like this. She wishes she had been, because then her baby sister might still be alive. She carries the weight of this tragedy, trying to keep her family from fracturing further. She has been assigned to the school's art therapy, where a miss-matched group of teens are meant to express their fears and troubles through juvenile art projects. But Jacob, a new addition to the group, shakes them up, gives them a boost of creativity, and might even bring them together.I can totally understand Petula's fear and desire to control her environment. Who wouldn't after feeling to blame for her baby sister's death. Petula has a unique voice. I liked her upfront nature and honesty. I liked watching the development of her relationships with those around her, from her fellow therapy members, parents and ex-best friend to the school principal, and can I note here that I love seeing a positive representation of a principal in YA fiction. I felt for Petula in her family situation, her fear that it was up to her to hold them together. The art therapy group is a vibrant cast of hurting characters. Their journey through hatred and misunderstanding to a cohesive group is a pleasure to read, bumps and detours included.Petula and Jacob bond over shared stories of tragedy and cat videos. They make an odd match, the girl who sees death everywhere and in everything and the boy who is optimistic despite everything he has experienced. But Jacob is hiding some big secrets, I'll say no more here for fear of spoilers, but their romance challenges Petula to engage once again with life. This honest and heartfelt story of tragedy and mental health is a worthy addition to realistic YA fiction and well worth reading. The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.Find more reviews, reading age guides, content advisory, and recommendations on my blog Madison's Library.

  • Dayla
    2019-03-19 20:13

    I received a copy via Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.One of my friends read Optimists Die First a few months ago and she told our group of friends that it was a pretty good read. When I finally dived into Susin Nielsen's novel, I understood why it had resonated with my friend so well. This book is little but it packs a punch (full of cats and books). I enjoyed reading about the protagonist and watching her character development as she is forced to face her fears. The character dynamic between the group of teenagers, who are all dealing with their own less-than-perfect lives, is one of the things that mainly stood out for me. I loved watching them all grow and I enjoyed learning more about them to the point where their quirks became more interesting than odd. Petula, the protagonist, and the new guy in her life have a very lopsided relationship, which added an extra layer to his character. I enjoyed knowing that no one in this book was exempt from the many trivialities of life. Everyone had an extra layer of something they were going through and this made the book more relatable. I'm always a fan of seeing characters who love to read and/or work at a bookstore because it helps me relate even more so with them. Petula and her family are lovers of music and books and the author's mention of her mother working at a bookstore chain in Canada made me imagine that it was the company I work for. This book was a heavy read despite its size due to the topics explored. The pacing was quick and the chapters were short, but I became invested in seeing how these characters would finally grieve those they've lost and the mistakes they've made. These weren't perfect people pretending to be imperfect characters, which gave Nielsen's novel an extra level of depth. One of my main issues is how quickly Petula grew and changed her way of thinking. I might be wrong here, but someone with the fears that Petula has doesn't suddenly change the way they think over night or because they're happy. It takes time and a lot of work. That whole issue in this book made me question the story a bit. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a Canadian Young Adult contemporary novel and for anyone seeking out a quick read with a little bit of a heavier storyline. Though Nielsen doesn't go too much into detail, there are descriptions and allusions to sex. Despite its few imperfections, this was a fun read and the cats added to the adorableness. Finally, I absolutely loved Anne of Green Gable's inability to find an appropriate spot to poop (it was a cat who would stealthily leave turds in fun places), it made me laugh every time. Happy reading!