By Author / Illustrator
Mental Health & Wellbeing
Usborne Publishing Ltd
Paperback / softback
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 her 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 them. And so she comes up with a plan. Because together, snowflakes can form avalanches... A trailblazing and painfully honest novel about mental health, friendship and making this crazy world a kinder place.
Holly Bourne has triumphed again. Olive's narrative is so simple, so real, so painful and raw. From the start, from page 1, we feel her mania; it's truly impressive how the writing draws you along, throughout you're skillfully soaring and plummeting with Olive as she struggles to catch hold of herself. You the reader, race with Olive's narrative as her mind races, you understand how she rationalises a situation, you walk through to her conclusions and you will her with every inch of yourself not to act as she does, to see the reason you see... but you're not driving the train - you are just a passenger.
The author has mastered the voice of Olive, the voice of a teen succumbing to a manic episode, and as painful as it is at times, it's an incredible journey. There is clear understanding and empathy from Holly Bourne as she delicately deals with an indelicate topic. Mental health, depression, mania, suicide are all issues that are raised openly and honestly.
Following Olive's first manic episode, she is offered a place at Camp Reset, a new residential facility, 'the country's first teen residential camp for brain wellness.' From there we explore friendships and importantly, kindness. Convinced that kindness is the key, it becomes the focus for Olive as she tries to reset.
Holly Bourne is a talented writer and this is a cracking book dealing with mental health.
400 pages / Reviewed by Catherine Purcell, school librarian.
Suggested Reading Age 14+
Holly Bourne has done it once again. This author is the Queen of tackling mental health issues for YA readers. Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes is a work of fiction but she handles various mental health issues in an informative and humorous way.
The story revolves around the main character, Olive, who we meet on the first page at the beginning of another breakdown. She is hiding under her desk covered in a duvet trying to block out all the 'noise', with her mom begging her to come out and help celebrate her dad's birthday. The day ends in disaster, with her parents and doctors believing that she attempted to take her own life. On the advice of her doctor she attends Camp Reset, a new program for MH sufferers. Olive goes on the belief that within the month she will be cured, as she hates herself for being the way she is and wants to become a 'good' person, not a bad one.
As the story develops, there are times when the writing becomes erratic, all over the place, as it reflects Olive's behaviour. You as the reader feel for her, beg her to stop and hold your breath when she eventually crashes.This takes a talented writer to make you feel this way.
The book doesn't just deal with Olive's issues, it also deals with the issues of some of the secondary characters that Olive meets at the camp. Are we all Lemmings and Snowflakes? is an excellent piece of writing, it brings out the reader's empathy for these teenagers, it makes the reader want them to succeed. Even though this is a story that deals with MH issues, it's not depressing, it is, if anything, uplifting, has lots of humour and of course hope.
One of its main messages is Kindness - try one act a day, it can make a difference to many people. Another main point is labels; why do we need them? Do they make things worse? The book tries to help us understand, that we are all unique and we should not be defined by our internal disabilities.
In terms of the storyline and development I was hooked straight away, it was engaging and fast paced from the first line, and may be slightly shocking for some readers as it covers a very sensitive subject in the first few chapters. Holly Bourne has written an honest and realistic portrayal of someone living with bipolar, it's full of emotion, doesn't hold back on tackling sensitive subjects such as suicide and abuse, and it is just so beautifully written. 397 pages with short chapters suitable for 14/15+ readers due to the contents.
Every school library should have this author's books on their shelves as I believe that young adults can gain a lot of insight from them. This story would be great for PSHE lessons, book clubs or for classroom discussion because of the issues that are raised. One more thing, at the beginning of the book there is a content warning ( which I thought was excellent ) and at the back, information for helplines if some of the subjects raised have affects on the reader. An informative, inspiring must-read.
400 pages / Reviewed by Linda Brown, school librarian.
Suggested Reading Age 14+