Optimists Die First


Petula feels directly responsible for the tragedy that befell her family two years earlier. Counselling and family and friend support do nothing to deter this certainty, or from her obsessive, protective actions. Petula sees danger everywhere.

New student Jacob threatens her shell of isolation. Despite his obvious history, he shares nothing; his optimism enables Petula and classmates. However, Jacob is holding something back that has deeper ramifications than anything for which Petula could plan….

Optimists Die First‘ is the sort of YA novel I would have loved. I love it now as a fully fledged adult. It is respectful of the genre and the reader, informed, funny, warm, natural and thoroughly charming. I wanted to give Petula a Kuola sized hug at the end of the story, and, as with Susin Nielsen’s other books, to keep on reading. I urge every older Bookwagon reader to engage with this story; you’ll be Wendy Russell crochet-hooked! (Older themes included)


Optimists Die First

Susin Nielsen

‘A love story for cynics’

(Andersen Press)

A tragedy two years earlier has left Petula immobilised by potential disasters. Suddenly, Jacob bionic-beams into her life, overturning her isolation, caution and certainties. ‘Optimists Die First‘ is a love story for a new generation, craftily constructed, that spans like a storyboard, and leaves the reader feline optimistic.


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