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 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.
A CBC Books Best Canadian Young Adult and Children's Books (2017)
SELECTION - CBC Most Anticipated Books of 2017
One of Bank Street’s Best Children's Books of The Year (2017)
One of Toronto Public Library’s Great Reads for Youth 2018
Selection 2018 – BookRiot 50 Must-Read Canadian Children’s and YA Books
One of CanLit for Little Canadians' must-read Canadian YA books
PRAISE 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