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A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  6,722 ratings  ·  1,232 reviews
From the author of Our Chemical Hearts comes the hilarious, reality-bending tale of two outsiders facing their greatest fears about life and love one debilitating phobia at a time.

Ever since Esther Solar's grandfather was cursed by Death, everyone in her family has been doomed to suffer one great fear in their lifetime. Esther's father is agoraphobic and hasn't left the ba
Paperback, 349 pages
Published September 5th 2017 by Hot Key Books
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Fez Here's the authors note in English:

MENTAL HEALTH isn’t as simple as a suicide-prevention number in the back of a book and an author you don’t know tel…more
Here's the authors note in English:

MENTAL HEALTH isn’t as simple as a suicide-prevention number in the back of a book and an author you don’t know telling you things will get better.
So I’m going to do a little more than that.
I’m going to tell you that I have friends and family who have suffered alone and in silence, people who only told me years after the fact that they were in incredible pain. That they had considered ending or even attempted to end their own lives.
It breaks my heart to think that people I love and couldn’t imagine the world without—brave, smart, resilient people—didn’t seek help. Didn’t speak up. Drowned quietly, in full view of everyone who knew them, without ever asking to be saved.
I know their struggle, because there are times I’ve found it difficult to speak out, too.
To that end, I beseech you to read Adam Silvera’s article “Happiness Isn’t Just An Outside Thing”—you can find it on his Tumblr. It is frank, it is terrifying, and it changed my outlook on mental health forever. It is completely essential. Read it, read it, read it.
My hope is that this book becomes a conversation starter to speak openly and honestly about mental health issues with those around you. Ask your friends and family how they are. Tell them how you are. Don’t be ashamed of seeking professional help. Be part of the movement to normalize talking about this stuff. Because it is normal.
Mental illness doesn’t make you weak; it makes you human.
And, in case of an emergency, I implore you to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. There will be someone on the other end of the line who can help you see the value of your life, even when you’re blind to it yourself.
Whether your problems are small or large (or even if you have none at all—you may be able to support somebody else), I will leave you with this mantra. I would like you to say it out loud, right now, until you take it to heart:
There is no shame in seeking help.
There is no shame in seeking help.
There is no shame in seeking help.
“I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy—I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.”
—Art Williams

NOTESDURING THE WRITING OF THIS BOOK, I watched many online resources about dealing with anxiety and fear. None was more useful and inspiring than Dawn Huebner’s “Rethinking anxiety: Learning to face fear” from TEDxAmoskeagMillyardWomen in 2015. Huebner’s talk formed the basis of Esther’s therapist’s advice, and has also been invaluable to me personally (I can now sleep in the dark after watching horror movies).
For my depiction of Saigon during the Vietnam War, I looked to photographs and firsthand accounts, but I’m indebted to Sara Mansfield Taber’s July 6, 2015, Literary Hub article, “My Saigon Summer, Before the Fall,” for truly setting the scene in my imagination. Any inaccuracies are entirely my own.
Jonah’s Shakespearean insults came from—an endlessly hilarious insult generator that I highly suggest we all start using on a daily basis. You mewling flap-mouthed flax-wenches.(less)
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Average rating 4.03  · 
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 ·  6,722 ratings  ·  1,232 reviews

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Start your review of A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares
Just one of those books again that rock my world, give it meaning and make me feel whole. Understood.

I don't know where to begin to review this book properly. So many emotions poured out of me whilst reading it and so many thoughts. It might take a while for me to comprehend my feelings and put it in writing.

I think this has to be one of the best YA books that deals with mental illness. Sutherland did her research and she did it well. Trigger warnings for anxiety, self-harm and suicide.

I don't
Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
DNF @ 25%. This book had an interesting premise, but it definitely felt like the author was exploiting phobias and mental illness to further the plot. It just.. did not work for me.
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
Oh! My! God! This book was everything to ME! I loved each character and I just can’t people! My reaction in gifs; rinse & repeat!!

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
Aj the Ravenous Reader
“Look, fearless people are stupid, ‘cause they don’t even understand what fear is. You gotta be scared right down to your bones for bravery to mean anything.”

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”

The Solar family is one of the most extraordinary families you’ll ever meet. A curse seems to run in their veins and each and every member was supposed to be afflicted with one great fear that will deliver the Reaper at their doorstep to ultimately claim their lives at a certain time a
enqi ༄ؘ 。˚ ⋆♡
Esther supposed, as they held each other under a threadbare carpet of stars, that this was how it must always feel in the beginning. Yet even there, next to him, the most excellent person in the universe, she couldn't stop herself from thinking that love was a pitcher plant. Sweet with nectar on the outside, but once you caught the scent and took the plunge, it ate you whole.

Soul and all.

I started out thinking this book was decent, but forgettable. I was wrong. It is AMAZING. A poignant gli
I loved this. Like an obsessive I-can't-wait-to-read-it-again sort of love.

I love love loved Esther and Jonah and Eugene. I liked BFF Hephzibah, but she was a little elusive on the page, which was effective when it paired up with how Esther described her. The four of them are loyal and supportive and delightfully strange and I desperately want to hang out with them.

Plot wise, it had ups and downs. There was sweetness and laughter and heartbreak and swoons and pretty much every emotion I had av
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Krista Regester
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
...she wondered if people really fell in love with others or if they fell in love with the best parts of themselves.
Fafa's Book Corner
Review posted on Fafa's Book Corner!

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: Death, mention of murder's, physical violence, mention of war, mention of kidnapping, suicide attempt, mention of critically injured animal, and abusive parent.

The Solar family has been cursed by death. During their grandfather's war days, he met death. Not just once but many times. Death cursed the Solar family to die from a fear. Hence why Esther Solar made a list of fears. Then she meets Jonah, a childhood friend. Mu
Mar 02, 2018 marked it as read-later  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed
I am having trouble getting into the book because I am not in the mood to read a romance.
I do plan on picking this up again.
Michelle (Pink Polka Dot Books)
Meh. It was different for sure, but it tried REALLY hard to be different.

This is going to be a tough one to talk about. I really liked it, but I also didn't 100% "get" it either.

A Definitive List of What I Liked:

1. The voice. This book starts out with a strong/humorous voice that drew me in right away. I was intrigued and I felt invested in the characters right from the start. I kind of felt like I started reading in the middle of the book where I already "knew" the characters and felt comforta
Ryan Buckby
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anxiety felt like a grapnel anchor had been pickaxed into your back, one prong in each lung, one through the heart, one through the spine, the weight curving your posture forward, dragging you down to the murky depths of the sea floor.

this book was enjoyable for the most part even though it did take me a little bit to get into the story and the characters, i did find myself putting the book down way to easily and stepping away which annoyed me because i want a book to capture me all the way thr
Yna from Books and Boybands
“Point is, you gotta be scared. Fear protects you. You gotta be scared right down to your bones" - he touched his fingertips to her collarbone - "for bravery to mean anything.”
Buy This Book 📖
📚 Series:  No.
📚 Genre: YA Contemporary.
📚 POV: Third person. 
📚 Cliffhanger: No.

⚠ Content Warnings:  Mental disorders. Anxiety. Depression. Physical abuse. Suicide.
⚠ Read if: you like to read a weirdly charming YA book.

A few weeks ago, I read Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland and I lo
Jodi Meadows
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book because a friend kept pushing it in my direction. I liked it at first -- the humor and the magic -- and sold two copies to other friends by page 50. It got a lot deeper and darker as I read, but it still worked.

This book is not always an easy read. It deals with topics like anxiety, depression, suicide, unsolved horrible murders of children, and many other forms of mental illness. But if you're looking for mirrors or windows into those subjects, I recommend this one.
rachel ☾
This book left a sour taste in my mouth.
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very funny and deeply sad, deftly combining a broken family history that evolves into a curse of supernatural origin with the satisfying trope of teens working their way through a bucket list: facing heroine Esther's potential mortal fears, ranging from the relatively benign (lobsters, moths) to the genuinely dangerous (cliff diving, lightning). She believes that by cataloguing every potentially scary thing and avoiding it forever, she might be able to dodge the grip of the Big Bad Fear that wou ...more
Feb 22, 2018 rated it liked it
another typical mental breakdown book. similar to all the bright places. bit boring and predictable.

i can related to anxiety. but i can not related to esther. somehow her anxiety is just too strange for me to understand.

jonah is a darling though.
I really, really liked this one. Full review to come!

Trigger warnings for: suicide attempt, mentions of death & suicide, domestic abuse, physical abuse
Tink Magoo is bad at reviews
This started out as a quirky young adult, friends to possibly more tale and built into a pretty deep and messy story about family and mental health issues. I have to say I normally avoid books about this topic simply because I read to relax and they don't do that. But here those issues were mixed well with an array of quirky characters, a bit of romance and the realisation that all families have issues and parents are people too with flaws. That can be a big revelation for some teenagers so I fe ...more
Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)
You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight

This is a really cute book, and I quite enjoyed it! There was so much fun stuff happening in this book, and it was incredibly unique. Of course, it deals with some really serious issues, too. There is a big focus on mental health, and Esther and her family suffer from it in droves, but in very different ways. Esther's best friend is selectively mute, and Esther's new-old friend (read abo
Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd)
4.5 Stars
“She’s passed the fear barrier, and she’d lived, and she’d discovered not certain death, s she’d imagined, nut impossible splendor. What other beautiful things had fear been hiding from her? What else has the curse long kept her from discovering? For the first time in a long time. She wanted to find out.”

A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares is a hilarious and inspiring take on fear, growth, and battling your inner demons. Esther Solar is cursed. Her family has been cu
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I loved this one. Really loved it.

A Semi Definitive List of Worst Nightmares centres on the Solar family, who are believed to be cursed by Death himself to die from their ultimate fear or phobia. Esther's grandfather is terrified of water, Eugene her twin brother is scared of the night. Her father is agrophobic and her mother is scared of bad luck. Esther, not knowing her fear, makes a list of everything that she's scared of, in t
Tamsien West (Babbling Books)
A touching, hilarious and relatable book for older teens, about depression, anxiety, facing your fears, and learning to accept help when you need it most.
17 year old Esther’s life is dominated by her semi-definitive list of 50 worst nightmares and the curse on her family to be killed by their greatest fear. Accompanied by her twin brother who is deathly afraid of the dark, her best friend who is a mute not-quite-ghost, and the boy who broke her heart when she was 8, Esther attempts to undo the
3.5 stars

A Semi-Definite List of Worst Nightmares was definitely not what I expected. I was expecting a regular contemporary novel about mental health, and instead I got a story about a family reminiscent of The Addams Family. I actually really liked this. It was surprising and unconventional and different, while still remaining true to the heart of mental illness stories.

I always love reading books with bucket lists and to-do lists, so reading about Esther tackling her fears one by one was a re
Sep 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is quirky, fun and incredibly emotional.

I really respected the approach the author took to reflect on different sides of mental illness from addiction to depression.

Also another thing I appreciated was how the relationship between Esther and Jonah -who is btw one of my favourite book characters- came to be. I mean there was a connection not a meet cute, but the most important aspect was that Jonah wasn't portrayed as a knight in shining armour or that once he laid eyes on her, she sud
Tomes And Textiles
I finished this weeks ago and I'm not sure why I haven't reviewed it other than to say it's been a busy month with a hurricane in the middle of it. Review to come soon because this was definitely one of the most enjoyable reads of 2017 for me. ...more
Eleanor (bookishcourtier)
Book two of my Contemporary Spree, and I loved it! It was so so dark and covered a LOAD of dark topics so please be aware that this book could be triggering for some people. It deals with anxiety and depression and just mental health in general, and while I loved the representation, I can see that some people may be more sensitive to these things. But I personally thought this was book was fantabulous so I thoroughly suggest you go read it if you think it sounds interesting. This is the second ...more
4 stars

This book is cute, undeniably sweet and incredibly touching! I wasn't expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. Krystal Sutherland creates a charming YA contemporary novel filled with flawed yet loveable characters and a fun plot. Despite the fun-sounding blurb and title, Sutherland doesn't skimp on emotional depth and allows this novel to become well-rounded, urging the reader to think further than the scenes written on the pages and presenting something meaningful.

I did love the charac
Claude's Bookzone (semi hiatus)
2.5 Stars

CW: (view spoiler)

Well this was not quite what I was expecting. To me it was more about a family dealing with their mental health issues than a romance. I enjoyed the friendship between Esther and Jonah and did find this story a bit fun and quirky but it has some qui
Hope Elizabeth Anderson (HopelessBookAddict)
This book was amazing. It was so deep and moving. It quickly became one of my favorite books! I highly recommend it! I don't want to say more due to spoilers...this is a FANTASTIC book! <3 ...more
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Krystal Sutherland is an internationally published author. Her latest novel for young adults, House of Hollow, was released by Penguin in April 2021. Sutherland's first novel, Chemical Hearts, was published in over 20 countries and was named by the American Booksellers Association as one of the best debuts of 2016. The film adaptation, produced by Amazon Studios, stars Lili Reinhart (Riverdale) an ...more

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“Everyone we let into our lives has the power to hurt us. Sometimes they will, and sometimes they won't, but that's not a reflection of us, or our strength. Loving someone who hurts you doesn't make you weak.” 41 likes
“Anxiety felt like a grapnel anchor had been pickaxed into your back, one prong in each lung, one through the heart, one through the spine, the weight curving your posture forward, dragging you down to the murky depths of the sea floor. The good news was that you kind of got used to it after a while. Got used to the gasping, brink-of-heart-attack feeling that followed you everywhere. All you had to do was grab one of the prongs that stuck out from the bottom of your sternum, give it a little shake, and say, “Listen, asshole. We’re not dying. We have shit to do.” 32 likes
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