4 star reads - Courtney

(Arc) Optimist die first by Susin Nielsen 



Life ahead: Proceed with caution.

Sixteen-year-old Petula De Wilde is anything but wild. A family tragedy has made her shut herself off from the world. Once a crafting friend with a happy life, Petula now sees the danger in everything, from airplanes to ground beef.

The worst part of her week is her comically lame mandatory art therapy class. She has nothing in common with this small band of teenage misfits, except that they all carry their own burden of guilt.

When Jacob joins their ranks, he seems so normal and confident. Petula wants nothing to do with him or his prosthetic arm. But when they’re forced to collaborate on a unique school project, she slowly opens up, and he inspires her to face her fears.

Until a hidden truth threatens to derail everything.



I’ve never related to a book so much. I suffer from general anxiety and social anxiety. Petula was such a great character to watch grow and push past some of her fears. You see Jacob help her deal with her anxieties while dealing with his own guilt.

I related so hard to Petula in the sense of watching everything trying to prevent death. I also related to her with trusting Jacob and feeling like she deserved to be loved. I loved this book so much, it is a short read ( I finished it in one day).

This book really showed what it is like for someone to live with guilt and so much anxiety about the world. I was honestly impressed at how much I related to it. I’ve never been able to find a book I related too, much less with a good anxiety rep.

You also see Petula and Jacob put in yart, a school program for kids who needs help dealing with situations in life, so they deal with it through art. All the kids help each other deal with their issues and help them to get past it and move on.

Alonzo is gay and his parents never accepted him, they kicked him out and he lives with his aunt. He struggles to get them to accept him so they can be a family again.

Koula has issues with alcohol and staying sober. She feels guilty about the issues with her parents and everything bad she has done.

Ivan’s mother died drowning, she swam too far out from shore and drowned. Ivan feels guilty about never being able to attend his mothers funeral.

Petula is a crafter and made her little sister a wolf suit. One night Maxine is sucking on a button and chokes and dies. Petula now struggles with the guilt of killing her sister, even though it was an accident.

You have twist and turns in the book, but overall it was a great read and I highly recommend it to anyone who has a loved one with anxiety or someone who has anxiety them selfs. Although I do forewarn you there are some possible trigger topics.

The books talk about people who have died and how they died, it’s Petulas scrapbook. So if you are in no way comfortable reading about things of that nature, then I do not recommend this book.

If you do by chance pick the novel up, I would love to know your thoughts on it. What did you think?


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