Optimists Die First

Front Cover
Tundra Books, Feb 21, 2017 - Art therapy - 240 pages
6 Reviews
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.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - laVermeer - LibraryThing

Petula wants her life to be as safe, quiet, and unremarkable as possible. Since the tragic death of her little sister, Petula has cut unnecessary social ties, turned inside herself, and become an ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - acargile - LibraryThing

This novel is realistic fiction and is by the author of We are all Made of Molecules. Petula believes that optimist die first, so she is happily a pessimist living her life prepared for disaster. She ... Read full review

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About the author (2017)

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 Airand Robson Arms, which she co-created. Her first novel, Word Nerd, won four Young Readers' Choice Awards and was a finalist for the TD Canadian Children's Literature Award and the Canadian Library Association's Book of the Year Award, among others. Her second novel, Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mom, won three Young Readers' Choice Awards and is a Winner of the Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers by VOYA and the Gold Winner of the Book of the Year Award in Juvenile Fiction by ForeWord Reviews. Her third novel, The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen, won many awards, including the Governor General's Literary Award, CLA's Book of the Year for Children Award, and three Young Readers' Choice Awards. It was also selected as one of the best fiction for young adults by the American Library Association and a Top Shelf for Middle School Readers byVOYA. Susin's latest, We Are All Made of Molecules, was shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award and longlisted for the Carnegie Medal in the US. Susin Nielsen lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with her husband and son.

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