Here’s why Susin Nielsen’s ‘Optimists Die First’ has got us falling in love all over the place

It’s a good’un

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book. – ‘The Fault in Our Stars’, John Green”

That is exactly what happened to us with Susin Nielsen’s ‘Optimists Die First’.

Since the accidental death of her little sister Maxine, Petula has let anxiety rule her life. She blames herself for Maxine’s death and now sees danger everywhere. She can’t walk past a construction site – what if some concrete falls? She can’t sit next to a bookcase – what if there’s an earthquake and the books fall on her?

Her anxiety lands her in art therapy where she meets Jacob. Petula really isn’t ready for friendship, let alone anything more, but when they’re paired together for a project, sparks start to fly.

Petula is completely glorious. We fell in love with her in only a few pages. Her worrying and anxiety spoke to us on an alarming level, we found ourselves wishing we were as good at arts and crafts as she is, and watching her fall in love for the first time made our hearts smile. Petula is also a crazy cat lady (though not nearly as much as her mum) which is something we can always appreciate.

So who did she fall in love with? Jacob, of course. We fell head over heels too. Jacob is a movie buff, an optimist, and a wonderful guy that made a big mistake. He broke our hearts and we were totally okay with it tbh. They make a really lovely pair, and we were championing them from the start – the sweetness, the banter, the genuine affection for each other was just wonderful.

As always, Susin Nielsen tells her stories about imperfect people in imperfect situations with incredible warmth. She knows just how to get in the minds of teenagers at their darkest moments and bring them out into a lighter place. We never turn the final page of one of Susin’s novels without a smile and a severe case of the warm fuzzies.

YA author extraordinaire Susin Nielsen told us EXACTLY which TV shows she wants to get her writerly hands on next

Quiz: What % pessimist are you?

We’re definitely not the only ones who’ve fallen under the spell of Petula and ‘Optimists Die First’.

Have you read and loved ‘Optimists Die First’ yet? Let us know in the comments below.

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Written by Sophie Waters

Sophie is the Head of Commercial at Maximum Pop! Having studied English Lit and Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, she came to MP! to satisfy her passion for books. Sophie is a diehard Hufflepuff and feminist. She's also a huge cat lover, and can often be found rocking her socks off at a gig.

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