Today on the blog, I am sharing my thoughts on one of my most anticipated reads of 2018. The latest release from one of my favourite authors ever; I am of course talking about Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? by Holly Bourne.
Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? by Holly Bourne
Publication Date: 9th August 2018
Format: Paperback, 397 pages
Synopsis: Welcome to Camp Reset, a summer camp with a difference. A place offering a shot at “normality” for Olive, a girl on the edge, and for the new friends who are all dealing with their own battles. But as Olive settles in, she starts to wonder – maybe it’s this messed up world that needs fixing, and not then. And so she comes up with a plan. Because together, snowflakes can form avalanches..
If I could camp outside Waterstones to get my hands on copies of Holly Bourne’s books as early as possible, I’d do it. When I saw that her latest release, Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? was available to buy at YALC, I think I heard angels sing. I immediately grabbed a copy, much alike how Golem cradles the One Ring, and made sure it was mine.. my precious. When it came to my August TBR, as well as the recent #YALCathon readathon, there was only one book on my mind.
There are too many people.
They clutter the pavements. They let their stupid children scream as they run under the garden hose. They chat outside until late. They play music at barbecues. They don’t seem to care that they are killing me.
Olive is struggling to leave her room. Again. Fed up of the never-ending noise outside, she feels physically and mentally drained. She doesn’t even have the energy to wish her dad a happy birthday. On the advice of her GP, Olive signs up to attend Camp Reset, a residential camp aimed at treating teenagers with mental health conditions. Even with the top-of-the-art facilities and trackable technology, Olive is convinced that its not the residents of Camp Reset that need fixing, but the crazy, messed-up world that they live in.
Even though I had read every early review of Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? that I could get my hands on, I still wasn’t prepared for just how good this book was. Empathetic and emotional, Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? is yet another triumph for Holly Bourne. I devoured this book in a day, and I can already see myself re-reading this book in the future and enjoying it just as much as I did the first time around.
Even though Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? has a heavy topic at its heart, it does have moments of tenderness as well as hilarity. I found myself giggling along at Olive’s dry narration and sassy interactions with her fellow residents and on-site counsellors. There are references to self-harm, abuse and suicidal ideation early on and throughout this novel, so if you need it, there are some contact details for mental health support organisations included at the back of the book. Look after yourself.
Olive, our protagonist, has a distinct and memorable voice that bounces off the page. With her condition, Olive isn’t always the most likeable narrator at times, but you won’t be able to help yourself from empathising with her and rooting for her to be okay. I’m not going to mention what Olive’s condition is, as I think as a reader you should find out at the same time as Olive like Holly intended. I will say that it was so refreshing to see her condition portrayed and represented in a sensitive and thoughtful manner. As we accompany Olive through her periods of mania, as the inevitable burn-out and depression, it is evident that Holly has researched Olive’s condition inside and out.
“And what about kindness towards yourself?” she says to him. “How much quicker would we recover if we were compassionate towards ourselves? If we forgave ourselves? If we gave ourselves a bit of slack?
I’m not alone in saying this, but Holly Bourne really does keep getting better and better with each book she writes. I loved the message behind Are We All Lemmings of Snowflakes? – the message to be kind, not only to others but also to ourselves. Self-care isn’t solely about sitting in bubble baths or slathering on the face masks, it’s about showing ourselves the same compassion and kindness we wouldn’t hesitate to give someone else.
If you buy one book this year, whether it be for yourself or for someone else, I would wholeheartedly recommend Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? On a final note, If I had to find something negative to say about this book, the mention of the new GCSE number grades made me feel very old indeed. Back in my day, we used letters as our grades. *shakes fist at sky*