An awkward situation turns into a unique opportunity to face fears in Krystal Sutherland’s latest. Esther Solar and her household are reminiscent of the Addams Family: They are not only riddled with phobias but also cursed because of Grandpa Reg, who claims to have met Death. For the last six years, 17-year-old Esther has attempted to reverse their curse by avoiding pretty much anything that could kill her. She even created “A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares,” her sacred inventory that was kept under wraps until Jonah Smallwood, a former childhood friend, steals it from her at a bus stop. Although she demands that he return it, he cleverly counters with a challenge: If Death is a person, “we find him, we talk to him, we get him to lift the curse.”
Sutherland has a distinctive ability to combine extreme concepts and even wackier characters to create a story that is both uproariously funny and thought provoking. Deftly weaving irony within her narrative, Sutherland blends realities of teen life amid the strangest of circumstances. Full of surprises that culminate in an unexpectedly sweet romance, A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares is earmarked to be a classic.