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Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? Paperback – 9 Aug 2018
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About the Author
Holly Bourne is an author and a journalist. Holly's first two books, Soulmates and The Manifesto on How to be Interesting, have been critically acclaimed and translated into six languages. The first book in the Spinster Club series, Am I Normal Yet?, was chosen as a World Book Night book for 2016 and was shortlisted for the YA Book Prize. The Spinster Club series has also inspired the formation of Spinster Clubs across the UK and Ireland. Before becoming a full-time author, Holly was editor of TheSite.org - a charity-run advice and information website for young people.
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I want to make it clear that I'm not a mental health professional so my views are based on my experiences only.
I found this book hard to read at times. Not because the writing was bad, but because it hit almost too close to home at times. The author does a superb job of giving the reader a glimpse into what it is to be mentally ill.
Olive is sent to Reset Camp in order to try and get her life back on track. The problem is she doesn't know what exactly is derailing her because she refuses to be told what diagnosis she has been given. I found this a really interesting aspect to the story and the way some people find that labels hinder them while others feel they are a necessary step on the road to recovery/stability.
“There's a certain type - who use their diagnosis like a human shield. They think it's a reason to find offence in anything. Accuse everyone of triggering them. Act like the world should wrap them up in cotton wool and lie coats over puddles for them just because they're on antidepressants or whatever.”
I really liked Olive as a character, maybe because she reminded me of myself so much. Inside she's a good person but she can come across as crass and short tempered. She's often labeled as a "slut" or a "bitch" due to her actions and she has a hard time accepting that she isn't at fault. As she developed throughout the story I found myself warming to her even more when she realized that even though she might not be at fault because of her actions, she is still responsible for the effect they have on people around her.
Olive realizes that she needs to be kinder to people around her, and that idea forms the basis of the latter half of the book. I think Holly makes a really relevant point here, kindness won't fix everything, but it can certainly help. Olive realizes that before she can even attempt to be kind to others, she must first be kind to herself.
“You don't have to stop looking after yourself just to help the world. In fact, sometimes it's better for the world if you put yourself first. That's not being selfish, in fact looking after yourself is the greatest act of kindness you can give the world. Loving yourself first is the best way to spread love.”
I won't talk about any more of the story because I don't want to give anything away. One thing I do want to talk about is the writing style. It's bloody genius in parts. The author uses lots of short sentences in succession, which made me race through certain paragraphs. This did an incredible job of mirroring how your mind can race and how your thoughts can run away with you.
If you're looking for an author that really understands mental illness then you need to read all of Holly Bourne's books. She handles the topic with care and respect, but isn't afraid to be powerful at the same time.
This is Olive’s story. Olive is a girl who is watching her mental health fall apart and feels the sheer isolation and horror over what is happening. She knows things have happened that have lead to her episodes but she can’t even begin to contemplate what they were. She just wants to get better.
When she is offered the chance to go to a summer camp that promises to help her get better she makes the brave decision to go. As she is expected to delve more and more into what her problems are we begin to realise that Olive is her own worst enemy and the saddest part is that she has no control over it.
Olive’s story really broke my heart. Bourne has tapped into the contentious topic of mental health and has given a realistic and shocking account of what mental health is and how it can impact on a person’s life. Furthermore, she has highlighted the growing concern over mental health among teenagers and how society needs to help those most at risk.
Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? by Holly Bourne is available now.