Book Review: Optimists Die First – Susin Nielsen

synopsis single

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 fiend with a happy life, Petula now sees 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.

My Thoughts 2

A love story for cynics!

This book was a frustration purchase. I was bummed because I couldn´t find a book in the book store so, on my way out I grabbed the first thing that caught my eye.

`Optimists Die First` by Susin Nielsen. To be honest- I had no flipping clue what this book was about. I´ve also never heard of the author before. I just gave the cover a once over and bought it. A risk purchase and it was SO worth it. optimists

I totally enjoyed `Optimists Die First`. It was witty, sweet, quirky and just overall a great read that left me with a good feeling.

I won´t bother giving you a rundown on what the story is about. The synopsis above is all a reader needs to know. Because I´d really hate to ruin this story by adding spoilers.

What´s good to know is that this story is predictable but not in a negative, annoying way. A reader can either see the outcome or feel it. Either way- That outcome happens and it leaves on a sweet note.  We´ve all read this type of book before.

I´m pretty sure some might find this trope filled story a tad washed out and some might find this read to be refreshing because it deals with issues that are relatable in a humorous yet serious way. `Optimists Die First` is just one of those reads where you either find it really cool or super annoying.

I, myself, am a super picky reader. I have high standards regarding certain stories / books. I think going completely blind into this read was the best thing that could have ever happened to me because I literally had no expectations what so ever. I didn´t have a chance to get my hopes up or to be spoiled by other reviews.

What I appreciated:

  • The fact that this was a short read.
  • The writing. I just love it when books are written well.
  • The mental illness rep.
  • The characters! I lived for Petula and Jacob!
  • The ending.

Let´s focus on the mental illness rep for a second. I´m truly not a fan of reading about characters who suffer from any type of mental illness because that´s something that has been used OVER and OVER again. I feel that these days, characters aren´t able to exist without some sort of mental illness.

In `Optimists Die First` the mental health issues Petula ( Heroine ) dealt with felt realistic. Even how she managed her life, her thought process… everything about her felt real. I liked that a lot and cannot stress out enough how great it felt to read about a character / characters who was/were genuine and flawed but in a beautiful way.

Also, I believe this book could be helpful to others dealing with mental health issues. `Optimists Die First`shows that life is what it is. Life is unclear. It´s unpredictable. And the only thing anyone can do is just hope for the best.
All in all a sweet read I fully enjoyed.

Would I recommend this book? Yes. I would. A nice YA read with light parts and parts for a reader to think about. There´s also a romance, but not the type you´d expect.

Would I reread this book? I probably will.


The Cover – 4 stars: Saw it. Grabbed it. Bought it. I blame it on the colors and the title. I love the title. And the tagline, of course.

The Story – 4 stars: Delightful and charming in it´s own special way.

The Characters – 5 stars: I have so much love for Petula and Jacob. Even for the sub characters!

My emotional state after finishing this read: I had an overall good feeling.

4 stars


This book can be purchased at


3 thoughts on “Book Review: Optimists Die First – Susin Nielsen

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