“…studies show that in general, optimists die ten years earlier than pessimists.”
“I find that hard to believe”
“Of course you do, you’re an optimist. You have a misguided belief that things will go your way. You don’t see the dangers till it’s too late. Pessimists are more realistic.
“That seems like a sad way to govern your life.”
“It’s a safe way to govern your life.”
Petula de Wilde is a pessimist out of survival; she keeps a binder full of stories about people who died from freak accidents and adjusts her life accordingly. She wasn’t always like this, when she was younger she had a best friend and was an avid crafter, but when one of her crafts was tangentially responsible for the death of her younger sister she fell apart. Now she is in high school and the only crafting she does is in Art Therapy.
She isn’t alone in Art Therapy and when the class of misfits gets a new member their lives, and in particular Petula’s, are changed forever. Jacob, who lost an arm in a car accident, brings the class together to help them face the struggles that sent them into therapy head on but he isn’t completely honest about his own reasons for being in therapy himself.
Either they were stupid, or they were optimists. Most likely both. “I will outlive you all,” I muttered under my breath.
I’ve had a rough run with YA this year, perhaps because I am nearly thirty and am quickly approaching “get off my lawn” territory, but this was wonderful. Nielsen created a charming cast of characters that, while a bit over the top, seem firmly planted in the reality of grief and anxiety. My biggest complaint would be the pacing. Everything happened at breakneck speed and while I have no problems with people getting over their personal demons thanks to the introduction of a new friend (isn’t that what 90% of YA is?) it seemed a bit unrealistic that someone with the problems Petula suffered from would get so well so quickly.
I think this is a book that will get a lot of play on Cannonball in the next few years since it has touches of John Green, Rainbow Rowell and other quality YA authors we love so much here on CBR.