Review: The Optimist

Published May 25th 2017, 369 pages

Author: Sophie Kipner

Overview from the Author’s Site:

Meet Tabitha Gray, a delusional girl from Topanga, California, who redefines what it means to be a truly hopeless romantic. Tabby suffers from an aggressive strain of cock-eyed optimism – no amount of failure, embarrassment or humiliation can dent her fierce belief that real, true, lasting love is just around the corner. 

Where most people think, fantasize and dream, Tabby says, feels and does. Whether waiting in her lingerie for Harrison Ford to open the door of his hotel room; declaring her love, aged nine, for Ernesto the gardener; encountering Al Pacino in a Russian bathhouse; seeking passion with a blind man on the advice of a wise old woman with dementia at her grandmother’s home for the elderly; or sending intimate photos to a random sexter with an apparently charming dick, Tabby refuses to be crushed by her many misadventures. She has to keep believing, because if she gives up, what then? Ill-advisedly armed with the words of Dorothy Parker, Tabby knows that her own ferocious optimism is the only thing keeping her heart-sore, wine-swilling mother and cynical, single-mum sister from giving up on love altogether. She is their only hope. If Tabby can find love, then they too will believe…

In this warmly witty debut novel, Sophie Kipner takes a satirical look at the extremity of romantic desperation, and pays wry tribute to the deep human need to keep on heroically searching for love despite our manifold absurdities.

Personal Review

This book is one of the most ridiculous I’ve ever read and I’m all here for it! The book is so out there that it almost becomes a parody of itself. If you do read this novel, then it’s important to not take it seriously. I read this book in less than a day as it was an easy read that kept you interested.

Tabitha, our main character, is on the search for love. Her VERY active imagination though sometimes gets in the way of her finding her prince charming.  She’s energetic, vibrant, and, of course, optimistic. She was a fun character that sometimes has trouble living in the real world. Sometimes while reading it was hard to tell what was really going on and what was reality as it’s a novel where anything is possible, even if it’s improbable.

Our story starts when Tabitha is five years old and she begins her “search” for love. Her romantic interests though don’t always align with real-world possibilities as she has a “love affair” with her mother’s older gardener – although it was very one-sided. This doesn’t deter her search for fulfilling her dream of finding a man worthy of her romantic dreams.  Every reader probably knows, or has known, a Tabitha in their life so she was a very realistic character. There were times that I honestly couldn’t believe this woman hasn’t been killed or arrested as she gets herself into some pretty crazy situations.

The chapters can sometimes feel very disjointed as we move through her journey. It does, however, his it’s stride about half-way through.  The characters are what make this book come to life as you have the free-spirited mother, the male best friend next door neighbor, and a soundboard niece. Everyone in this story complement each other as they are all different personalities that work together to make a relatable story.  There wasn’t a ton of character development, but it didn’t seem to bother me as much as thought.

The writing is humorous and wild. It made me roll my eyes while giggling in many places as I just couldn’t believe what I was reading, but it worked so well! The author definitely has a talent for writing what could be considered nonsense in some places and making it a charming story.  The scene in the airplane bathroom alone is one of the most out there moments that is embarrassing and entertaining. The novel is filled with moments that just continue the story’s light-hearted theme of being you and things will find its way to work itself out.

Overall, this novel is worth a read for any person! It has some character and plot development that is lacking, but its theme rings true throughout. One thing that bothered me was that there were no consequences for Tabitha’s antics (especially the Russian bath house moment).  I believe in staying true to yourself as much as the next person where you don’t conform to people’s expectations, but I also think that there is a limit when your actions can have some negative consequences on others.  The novel does show though that we can all use a little less pessimism in our lives and be more optimistic.

**Thank you to Edelweiss and Unbound for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**

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