Author: Krystal Sutherland
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Published: 5th September 2017
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Source: Netgalley and Publisher
Date read: 2nd October 2017
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Ever since Esther Solar’s grandfather met Death, her entire family has been doomed to suffer one great fear in their lifetime—a fear that will eventually lead each and every one of them to their graves. Take Esther’s father, for instance: He’s an agoraphobe who hasn’t left the basement in six years. Then there’s her twin brother, Eugene, whose fear of the dark goes far beyond the things that go bump in the night. And her mother, Rosemary, is absolutely terrified of bad luck.
As for Esther, she’s managed to escape the curse…so far. She doesn’t yet have a great fear because she avoids pretty much everything. Elevators, small spaces, crowds—anything that might trigger a phobia is off-limits and is meticulously recorded in her semi-definitive list of worst nightmares.
Esther thinks she has it all figured out, until she’s reunited with an old elementary school classmate—and first crush—Jonah Smallwood. The encounter leaves her stranded at a bus stop and swindled out of her phone, all her cash, a Fruit Roll-Up she’d been saving, and her list—not to mention her dignity. But the theft is also the beginning of an unexpected friendship between the two, one that sends the pair on a journey of self-discovery as they try to break the curse that’s consumed Esther’s family. Together they face their greatest fears, one debilitating phobia at a time, only to discover the one fear they hadn’t counted on: love.
*I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
I read Krystal Sutherland’s debut novel earlier this year for my #beatthebacklist challenge and whilst it wasn’t great I decided to give this writer another chance. I usually give authors a second chance, I like to see how they develop and whether it’s just the story or characters that rubbed me up the wrong way.
I was pleasantly surprised with this book, I definitely think it is an improvement from her debut novel and will read further books of her’s if the blurb intrigues me.
This story follows Esther Solar, she is not your typical 17-year-old, she doesn’t conform to fashion trends and has her very own unique style of dressing up in costumes every day, one day she might be Audrey Hepburn, she might be a cow girl the next. She is not a popular girl and her family would maybe deemed eccentric or different from the norm.
Esther’s grandfather proclaimed that he met death (several times) since this revelation his family has had a bout of bad luck. Esther has a twin who is petrified of the dark and has all the lights and candles going continuously, her father is agoraphobic and hasn’t left the cellar for 6 years and her mother has a fear of bad luck. Esther deems herself as the normal one of the family, however that’s only because she has avoided anything she thinks might induce fear and so she creates a list, these are: Lobsters, small spaces and anything else she thinks of, this is her list of semi-definitive list of worst nightmares.
Esther comes in to contact with Jonah Smallwood, a boy who used to be in her class but then moved away to another school. Jonah seems to take a liking to Esther and keeps turning up at her door or the same part. They develop this friendship,when Jonah discovers Esther’s list he takes it upon himself to help conquer these so-called fears and live life fear free.
There were several things that I enjoyed about the book, one was I thought the characters were good and fleshed out, we got a back story to how they came to their current situation. I liked that there was a magical realism/supernatural element to the book. This book had its quirks and then also some serious topics such a phobia’s,anxiety,depression, gambling,child abuse, dementia, selective mutism and suicide. Whilst you might be thinking that is some heavy stuff, it doesn’t always feel like that through the book. Sutherland has managed to handle these heavy topics with a lot of care.
Sutherland’s writing style is easy to read but the pacing was a bit up and down and sometimes it just didn’t hold my attention. I would definitely recommend reading this book, however there are trigger warnings.
I rated this 3 out of 5 stars