Select one of the keywords
Optimists Die First    by Susin Nielsen order for
Optimists Die First
by Susin Nielsen
Order:  USA  Can
Wendy Lamb Books, 2017 (2017)
Hardcover, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Sixteen-year-old Petula de Wilde sees potential disaster in every direction, quoting studies that 'show in general, optimists die ten years earlier than pessimists' (hence the title). She wasn't always like this. She used to be happy and to be a crafting fiend, along with her best friend Rachel. Now she has panic attacks and Rachel looks at her with pity in her eyes. They live in Vancouver, Canada.

What caused the change? A family tragedy (the death of her baby sister) for which Tula feels guilty. She copes by always expecting the worst (and trying to avoid it). Now she has to take Youth Art Therapy (YART), which she dislikes. It's there that she meets the Bionic Man who will change everything - Jacob Cohen has a robotic hand and they are given a shared assignment.

Though Tula tries to avoid Jacob, he's very persistent. For their assignment they decide on a Wuthering Heights movie starring the stray cats Tula's mom has taken in - a Cataptation. Next comes a project involving their fellow YART misfits, and it has unintended consequences for all concerned. Tula wakes up in the mornings, looking forward to the day. She crafts again with Rachel. Optimism creeps into her life.

But then she does something impulsive and learns what really happened in Jacob's accident. It changes everything for a while. Until Tula realizes that she knows how to help Jacob as much as he has helped her. Though it addresses tough topics, Optimists Die First does so with a light and humorous touch. I enjoyed it very much.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Teens books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews