A Semi-definitive List of Worst NightmaresBook - 2017
Her father is agoraphobic, her twin brother can't be in the dark without a light on, and her mother is terrified of bad luck. According to the legend of a curse, Esther Solar's family is destined to die from their fears. Esther avoids pretty much everything: elevators, small spaces and crowds; haircuts, spiders, dolls. She even keeps a record of in her semi-definitive list of worst nightmares. Then Jonah Smallwood swindles her out of her phone, money, a fruit roll-up-- and her list of fears. He sets a challenge: to break the curse, they will face one terrifying fear at a time. Including one not on the list: love.
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Seventeen-year-old Esther Solar’s extraordinary family is cursed in a very unusual way.
For many years – ever since Esther’s grandfather met Death in Vietnam, each Solar family member has been cursed to suffer one great fear – a fear that would eventually, in some way, bring about their death.
Esther’s mother is terrified of bringing about bad luck. Her father is an agoraphobe (one who fears being out in public where they could suffer a panic attack) and he hasn’t left the basement for over six years. Esther’s twin brother, Eugene, is deathly afraid of the dark.
And Esther? So far, she’s managed to escape the family curse … but she knows that it could strike at any time. To keep it at bay, Esther avoids many scary things – elevators, rollercoasters, crowds, small spaces, spiders, moths, snakes – and anything else on her “semi-definitive list of worst nightmares”.
What does Esther fear the most? Maybe it’s being seen by others as she truly is. As a sort of protection, Esther dresses as someone else every day – Red Riding Hood, Wednesday Addams, Jackie O., Optimus Prime, etc.
But ultimately this is a story of someone standing up to their greatest fears. And Esther will do just that in this funny but touching story of quirky, memorable characters, humorous dialogue and unexpected friendships (and romance)…. a story which also tackles some serious issues such as phobias, anxiety and mental health…. a story which is very, very hard to put down until the end.
** Recommended for ages 14 years and up.
** Reviewed by Sally Hengeveld, librarian, Stratford Public Library.
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