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Optimists Die First

Susin Nielsen

In Nielsen’s (We Are All Made of Molecules, 2015) heartfelt novel, the accidental death of Petula de Wilde’s younger sister Maxine has left her family fractured and struggling to deal with their grief. Petula, who blames herself for her sister’s death, has shut herself off from the rest of the world. Her anxieties land her in an art therapy class at school with a group of fellow misfits. Then a new student, Jacob joins the class. He's a confident and enthusiastic filmmaker with a prosthetic arm and a tragic past. When Jacob teams up with Petula on a hilarious project, he's determined to help her come out of her shell. But as the two grow closer, it becomes clear that a hidden truth behind why Jacob is in the group could derail their romance. That is unless Petula is willing to take a big risk.