Susin Nielsen – Optimists die first

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Susin Nielsen – Optimists die first

Petula has avoided friendship and happiness ever since tragedy struck her family and took her beloved younger sister Maxine. Worse, Petula blames herself. If only she'd kept an eye on her sister, if only she'd sewn the button Maxine choked on better, if only...Now her anxiety is getting out of control, she is forced to attend the world's most hopeless art therapy class. But one day, in walks the Bionic Man: a charming, amazingly tall newcomer called Jacob, who is also an amputee. Petula's ready to freeze him out, just like she did with her former best friend, but when she's paired with Jacob for a class project, there's no denying they have brilliant ideas together - ideas like remaking Wuthering Heights with cats. But Petula and Jacob each have desperately painful secrets in their pasts - and when the truth comes out, there's no way Petula is ready for it.

Informatie over het boek
Schrijver: Susin Nielsen
Titel: Optimists die first
Uitgeverij: Andersen Press Ltd (GB)
Jaartal: 2017
Bladzijden: 258
Illustrator: Susin Nielsen
Genre: psychologisch verhaal
Leeftijd: 15+

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Luister naar het begin van dit boek...

Mijn samenvatting

The first time I saw the Bionic Man I was covered in sparkles.
It was a typical Friday afternoon at Youth Art Therapy, YART for short. I was trying to help Ivan the Terrible with our latest, lamest project. As per usual, Ivan refused to focus. Instead he tipped a tube of rainbow glitter onto my head, all over my cat hat and all over me. Alonzo tutted sympathetically. Koula snorted with laughter. Another sunny day in paradise.
We were sitting in the common area of the counselling suite. It was always either Antarctica cold or Saudi Arabia hot. Even though it was early January, I’d stripped down to my tie-dyed tank top. Ivan started punching my bare arm with the very fingers that had, moments ago, been wedged up his nose. I reached into my tote bag for my bottle of hand sanitiser, just as one of the counsellors’ doors opened.
Ivan glanced up. ‘Petula, look,’ he said. ‘A giant.’
The Bionic Man was not a giant. But he was well over six feet. Everything about him was supersized. A bright orange parka was slung over one arm, which was major overkill for a Vancouver winter. He looked about my age, with a mass of curly brown hair and big brown eyes that were red from crying.
The Bionic Man had stepped out of Carol Polachuk’s office. I’d sat in that soulless space many times myself, forced to talk to she of the UP WITH LIFE! T-shirts, bulgy eyes, and condescending attitude. Carol was very good at one thing, and that was making you feel worse. So I wasn’t surprised that the Bionic Man looked disorientated. And angry. And deeply, terribly sad.
I recognised those looks. The Bionic Man hadn’t been in there for a chat about career options. You didn’t see Carol Polachuk for the small stuff. He was one of us.
For a brief moment, our eyes locked.
Then he made a beeline for the doors.
And he immediately left my brainpan as I started slathering myself in hand sanitiser.
The end.
Except it wasn’t. (blz. 10)

Met Petula gaat het niet zo goed. Sinds de dood van haar zusje Maxine ziet ze overal gevaar. Daarom moet ze naar Youth Art Therapy. Zelf vindt Petula dat het heel normaal is om naar de gevaren om je heen te kijken en deze zoveel mogelijk zien te vermijden. Op die manier blijf je langer leven…

The walk took fifteen minutes. That was a full eight minutes longer than usual because a building between the school and our apartment had been torn down in December, and now a construction site filled almost an entire city block. I had to take a detour to avoid it.
Up ahead, I watched as the Girl Formerly Known as My Best Friend and her posse walked right past the site. I almost shouted out a warning. But I knew she would give me an exasperated, pitying look, so I said nothing. I turned left instead of going straight and ran through my mental checklist.
Cross only at designated crosswalks and intersections, check.
Step into the road only after all vehicular traffic has come to a full stop, check.
Scan pavement for suspicious objects, bags, or parcels, check.
Give wide berth to irresponsible dog owners who don’t have said pet on leash even though it’s the law, check. Don’t become an animal’s chew toy, check.
Look over shoulder occasionally to make sure you are not being followed, check.
Rape whistle around neck, check. Keys secured between your knuckles, check.
My knot of anxiety loosened when I arrived on our street, a quiet one-way in Vancouver’s West End.
It is a nice street. Chestnut trees line both sides of the road, and the buildings are all low-rise. Ours stands right in the middle of the block, four storeys with a yellow brick exterior, the word ARCADIA over its front door. We’re on the top floor, or, as Dad liked to joke, the penthouse.
Our street and our building were not without danger. But I had safe zones, and this was one of them. For one thing, I’d done due diligence when we first moved in over a year ago. I’d anonymously called in all sorts of building inspectors. Thanks to me the wiring is now to code and every apartment has a new sprinkler system. You’d think the absentee landlord would have been pleased, but instead he sent all the tenants a letter, threatening to ‘uncover the rat.’
He never did. (blz. 24)

Er komt een nieuwe jongen in de groep. Zijn naam is Jacob en hij heeft een kunstarm. Hij wil niet vertellen hoe hij daar aan komt, hij wil eigenlijk niets over zichzelf vertellen. Jacob zit ook bij Petula in de klas en ze moeten voor het vak Engelse literatuur samen een opdracht doen. Daar heeft ze echt geen zin in.

Jacob showed up less than eight hours later, shortly after ten a.m., wearing a filthy-looking John Deere ball cap. ‘It’s my lucky director’s hat. It can never be washed.’
Ugh.
My dad was heading out for one of his epic runs and Mom was off to a yoga class. ‘I always knew our cats had star quality,’ she said when she heard the idea. ‘I’m happy to help when I get back.’
I handed Dad his reflective vest and Mom her rape whistle. ‘Don’t forget to use my Christmas gifts.’ They gave each other a look. ‘I saw that. Better safe than sorry.’ After they left, Jacob showed me his digital camera. It was small and lightweight, a gift from his parents. ‘I guess we should talk about sets,’ he said.
‘Actually, I started working on something last night.’ My mind had been abuzz with ideas for a cat-sized version of Catherine’s bedroom at Wuthering Heights. Finally I’d given up on sleep altogether and padded down to our storage locker, careful to put my own rape whistle around my neck first. I’d rummaged around until I found three big boxes of my old crafting supplies, untouched since our move.
It took three separate trips to lug it all back upstairs. Everything was in those boxes, from paint to pipe cleaners. I even found the old bonnets Rachel and I had made during our Little House on the Prairie phase, and because no one could see me, I’d worn mine while I worked.
I took Jacob to my room and showed him what I’d created so far. It was a three-walled set made from a large cardboard box I’d found next to the recycling bins and decontaminated with Lysol, which gave it a faint lemony scent. I’d cut out a big window and hung fabric for curtains. I’d made miniature books and placed them on the windowsill as stand-ins for the books Lockwood needed to discover. Then I’d painted the walls ochre, to add to the moody, desolate feel of Wuthering Heights. I’d also dashed off a few drawings of cats in period costume and hung them around the room as portraits. ‘I still need to make the bed,’ I said. ‘But it’s big enough that we could probably fit one of the cat beds in.’
Jacob whistled. ‘Wow, Petula. Did you get any sleep at all?’
‘A bit. Not much.’
‘You’re really good.’
I let myself smile.
‘Do you think we could get the cats to wear costumes?’ Jacob asked.
‘We can try. One of those boxes has a pile of dolls’ clothes I made when I was younger.’ (blz. 90)

Petula en Jacob maken een filmpje over Wuthering heights van Jane Austen, met de katten van Petula’s moeder in de hoofdrollen. Het blijkt erg leuk te zijn om dit samen te doen. Petula was vergeten hoe leuk het is om te knutselen. Dat deed ze veel voordat haar zusje overleed. Waardoor overleed haar zusje? Hoe komt Jacob aan zijn kunstarm? Worden Petula en Jacob vrienden? Blijft Petula altijd bang voor gevaar?

Mening over het boek

Recensie van Mathilde (ouder dan 18 jaar)
Hoe kom je aan het boek?
gekregen via Netgalley (een website waar je Engelstalige recensieboeken kan aanvragen)
Wat vind je van het boek?
★★★★☆
Waarom heb je dit boek uitgekozen om te lezen?
Het boek heeft een mooie voorkant, Ik vond de tekst op de achterkant leuk, Ik heb al andere boeken van deze schrijver gelezen
Welke steekwoorden passen bij het boek?
fascinerend, grappig, romantisch, verrassend, zielig
Staan er illustraties in het boek? Wie heeft ze gemaakt? Wat vind je van de illustraties?
Nee
Is het boek moeilijk of gemakkelijk te lezen?
Gemiddeld
Waar gaat het verhaal over?
Zie hierboven
Wie is de hoofdpersoon?
Petula is een meisje van 16 jaar. Ze is overal bang voor en probeert zo veel mogelijk situaties te vermijden die volgens haar gevaarlijk zijn. Ze moet een kunstcursus doen als therapie en daar gaat ze met tegenzin heen
Zou je iemand uit het verhaal willen ontmoeten? Waarom? En wat zou je dan gaan doen?
Ik wil Petula ontmoeten en met haar kletsen. Ze lijkt me een aardig meisje
Waar speelt het verhaal zich af?
Het verhaal speelt zich af in Vancouver waar Petula woont; op school, bij haar thuis, bij therapie
Wat vind je leuk aan dit boek?
Ik vind het leuk dat Petula langzaam meer contact maakt met anderen
Wat vind je niet leuk aan dit boek?
Ik vind het niet leuk dat Petula en Jacob ruzie krijgen
Wil je nog iets anders vertellen over het boek?
Nee
Voor wie zou dit een leuk boek zijn?
Voor iedereen vanaf 14 jaar die houdt van een realistisch verhaal, met leeftijdsgenoten in de hoofdrol
Wil je het boek nog een keer lezen?
Ik wil het boek misschien nog een keer lezen, Ik wil andere boeken van deze schrijver lezen

Tip

Ben je op zoek naar meer informatie over de schrijver, illustrator en/of vertaler? Veel van deze boekenmakers hebben een eigen website. Daarnaast vind je meer informatie op de websites van de uitgeverijen en op de websites van Jeugdbibliotheek, Jeugdliteratuur, Leesfeest, Literatuurplein

Dit vind je misschien ook leuk om te lezen

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