A Semi-definitive List of Worst Nightmares

Krystal Sutherland. Putnam, $17.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-399-54659-4
Each member of 17-year-old Esther Solar’s family is consumed by a different fear. Terrified to leave the house, her father has holed himself up in the basement for six years. Her mother, a believer in ghosts and bad luck, has become addicted to gambling. And due to Esther’s twin brother’s intense fear of the dark, their house is lit 24/7. Esther believes that her family’s propensity for these phobias stems from a curse bestowed on her grandfather years ago, and she dreads discovering a latent terror that will overtake her. Then Jonah, an elementary school acquaintance turned pickpocket, offers to help Esther confront and conquer 50 fears on a list she has assembled. In a darkly ironic tale about an offbeat dysfunctional family, Sutherland (Our Chemical Hearts) gives mixed messages about fate, death, and mental disorders; the supernatural elements of the novel feel incongruous beside Esther’s growing understanding of psychological illnesses and her tendency to hide her true self from the world. Though some characters undergo various forms of salvation, the book’s resolution is unsettling. Ages 14–up. Agent: Catherine Drayton, Inkwell Management. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/17/2017
Release date: 09/05/2017
Genre: Children's
Compact Disc - 978-0-525-49782-0
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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