Book Review: Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? by @holly_bourneYA #KindnessIsContagious


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.


I'm a huge Holly Bourne fan but I went into Lemmings and Snowflakes without reading much about it beyond the blurb. 

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.


★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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