Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? by Holly Bourne
Date read: 13th July 2018 – 13th July 2018
Page Count: 348
Genre: Young Adult
Format: Proof copy (borrowed from my sister, who got it from her school librarian)
Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? is a pretty confusing title, and honestly one I’m still not 100% sure about. Although I understand the context of the title, I feel like it could have been better named, as it doesn’t really reflect the contents of the novel, apart from being an abstract reference.
However, this book does concentrate on mental health; something that seems pretty common for Holly Bourne, except, in this case, it is the main focus of the novel. We follow the story of Olive, a girl with a mental illness, who refuses to know what her diagnosis is. After running away in a thunderstorm, she gets the opportunity to visit ‘Camp Reset’, a holiday retreat aiming to treat those with mental illnesses.
Putting the protagonist into an environment filled with others not dissimilar to herself worked well for the story, but it did feel a little like a few of the characters were not fleshed out enough to become truly “real” (however corny that sounds). However, I loved the characters of those who were properly characterised, namely Sasha, who I ended up wanting to tell the story more than Olive.
On that note, Olive was a great unlikable narrator. She does quite a few things that I personally disliked her for, stuff that I don’t think can be excused by a mental illness. I think this is what the writer was actually going for – so that’s a plus for the novel!
As always, I love the way Holly Bourne writes. She’s a very accessible author, even for the YA genre, and the way she talks about mental illness is both touching and informed. Although I didn’t enjoy this book quite as much as, say, The Manifesto on How to be Interesting or Am I Normal Yet? (two other books by the same author that also include mental illness themes), it was still definitely enjoyable.
Overall, I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars, dropping a star for the lack of character development in the background characters, which I felt was a shame (although understandable, considering how many characters the author had to work with), and the easiness of ‘Camp Reset’. Unfortunately, camps like that don’t tend to exist, and dealing with mental illness is often a lot harder than simply going away for the summer. Even though it was a plot device to get the characters to meet, it was still a bit of a cop-out, and although I enjoyed how nobody was miraculously ‘cured’ by the camp, it still feels very unrealistic to me.
This book comes out on 9th August 2018. This is a review completely unaffiliated with either the publisher or the author – I was just lucky enough to be able to borrow the proof copy.