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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 basement in six years, her twin brother can’t be in the dark without a light on, and her mother is terrified of bad luck.

The Solars are consumed by their fears and, according to the legend of the curse, destined to die from them.

Esther doesn’t know what her great fear is yet (nor does she want to), a feat achieved by avoiding pretty much everything. Elevators, small spaces and crowds are all off-limits. So are haircuts, spiders, dolls, mirrors and three dozen other phobias she keeps a record of in her semi-definitive list of worst nightmares.

Then Esther is pickpocketed by Jonah Smallwood, an old elementary school classmate. Along with her phone, money and a fruit roll-up she’d been saving, Jonah also steals her list of fears. Despite the theft, Esther and Jonah become friends, and he sets a challenge for them: in an effort to break the curse that has crippled her family, they will meet every Sunday of senior year to work their way through the list, facing one terrifying fear at a time, including one that Esther hadn’t counted on: love.


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 . . . Krystal Sutherland deftly balances nuanced conversations about dark topics such as suicide, mental health, domestic violence and addiction, with happier topics such as first love, family bonds, YouTube fame and pop-culture references.

Tamsien West, Books + Publishing

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.


A bewitching book about the love shared with family, damaged and all, and the multitude of ways in which mental illness manifests in daily life. Sutherland’s fertile imagination makes this book a deep dive into the intricacies of family, friends, and personal history. The characters are fully distinct and genuine, and the dips into a historical narrative lend an essential veritas to the story. By combining the harsh experience of severe mental illness with a light magical touch, the author creates a space for readers to gain new perspective on what it's like to live with real demons. . . A fresh and compelling look at mental illness.

Kirkus Reviews

A funny, touching story filled with memorable characters and big issues.


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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    August 28, 2017

    Penguin (AU YR)

    272 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    August 28, 2017

    Penguin eBooks (AU YR)

    272 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Also by Krystal Sutherland

Our Chemical Hearts

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