Optimists Die First is a romance novel that stands out from the crowd with its heartbreaking and beautiful portrayal of grief.
Petula has avoided friendship and happiness ever since tragedy struck her family. The worst thing is, she blames herself for what happened and consequently sees danger in everything. Adding to her woes is her comically sad 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, Petula wants nothing to do with him, or his prosthetic arm. But when they’re forced to collaborate on a unique class project, the two of them begin to bond. However, a secret buried in the past threatens to derail everything.
Petula was a brilliant protagonist and I instantly empathised with her. The way that Neilsen dealt with her mental health issues was perfect, showing her fragility but also the warped logic Petula thinks is common sense.
Optimists Die First is a fantastic romance novel that tackles some major issues that I won’t forget. I loved how this wasn’t your usual contrived YA romance, instead showing a complicated and messy relationship.