Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes by Holly Bourne – Book Review

Title: Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes?

Author: Holly Bourne

Genre/Themes: YA Contemporary, Mental Health, Residential Care Facility

Blurb from Goodreads

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 she never expected to make – who each have their own reasons for being there. Luckily Olive has a plan to solve all their problems. But how do you fix the world when you can’t fix yourself?

A raw and compelling exploration of mental health, friendship and the power of compassion from the acclaimed Holly Bourne.

My Review

It took me practically two weeks to read Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? (which it really shouldn’t due to its length) because even though it started well it quickly turned into a muddy mess. Especially once the prime numbers group was set up. Once I got to the end I felt utterly underwhelmed and entirely unsatisfied by what I had read.

The ending was so abrupt that it felt akin to bookish whiplash. Look I get that the idea of this novel was taking care of your mental health is a journey rather than a quick break at a treatment centre, but even so the way it was written by Bourne just felt hollow to me.

I also didn’t feel that all the other patients of Camp Reset (aka supporting characters) were written in a detailed enough manner. I mean they were practically ignored in the characterisation stakes! Therefore I felt their mental health issues were really poorly described.

As for the narrative structure of the book… oof I really really REALLY hated it!

The book was told from Olive’s PoV but clearly Bourne had forgotten that for a book to be readable it needs to have some sort of lyrical flow. Instead what we were treated to were endless sentences starting with “I did this, I did that. I feel this, I feel that” etc etc. This meant it got tedious to read really quickly. Such lackadaisical writing IMO.

So in all honesty I just feel short changed by this novel.

To me it lacked a bit of humour; I obviously wasn’t expecting a chortle-fest due to the subject matter but a little light and shade would have given it much needed nuance. A little dark humour sprinkled throughout would have been perfect.

On the whole the plot was definitely the weakest from all the books I’ve read by Holly Bourne. It was just dull!

But the biggest bugbear I have is that main character Olive felt far too distant from me as a reader. I found it incredibly hard to empathise with her because she was underwritten. In my opinion Bourne put all of the focus on developing the manic side to Olive’s character which left her feeling one dimensional. It was as if she forgot to develop some other aspects to Olive’s personality which was incredibly ironic if you think about it! This is supposedly a book whose primary aim is to challenge the concept of labels and to push back against the idea that mentally unwell people are just defined by a diagnosis so it’s utterly poor writing on the part of Bourne because ultimately Olive’s diagnosis is the only tangible thing that we know about Olive!

I did appreciate the message this book has about spreading kindness, and its goals with regards to learning to accept ourselves as whole persons, warts and all. However, I just found the execution of that storyline to be far too saccharine for my tastes. It was so overdone that it began to feel as if it were a far fetched concept. But surely kindness to yourself and others shouldn’t be a far fetched notion!!!!

Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? had so many great aims and ideas. It was such a well intentioned story but poorly executed. Sadly I was just not a fan of the book

Other Works by Holly Bourne I’ve Reviewed

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