A few months ago I received a very exciting email from Usborne inviting me to join the Prime Numbers – a group of Holly fans coming together to spread the kindness alongside her latest novel “Are We All Lemmings & Snowflakes?” I replied with YES (maybe a little more professionally than that if I’m honest) and was immediately excited. I’m a huge fan of Holly’s, not only because she is an exceptional writer of awesome stories, but because the first time I read about a character like me in terms of mental health was in Am I Normal Yet? It meant a lot to me and made Holly a top author of mine.
Being kind is very, very important in my opinion. I’ll totally admit that every now and again I do have unkind thoughts, and admittedly I have acted unkindly in the past as I’m sure we all have, but I do make a conscious effort to be nice. As it says in the book, one act of kindness towards a person can totally alter a person’s day! The idea of a book that promotes this message alongside a discussion of mental health was just amazing to me, so I was super grateful to receive a copy of the book alongside a fab #KindessIsContagious package from Usborne. Keep on reading for my spoiler free review!
From the cover:
“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?”
First of all, a whole young adult fiction book about mental health that doesn’t play on stereotypes as a plot device – yes please! I also want to note that while personally the book was not triggering for me, it may be for others due to mentions of self harm, abuse, drug use and particular triggers to character’s conditions (like certain smells for example). It did however get me thinking about my own mental health as I could draw similarities and differences between myself and the characters.
My favourite quote of the whole book and a line I will be using in future when anybody tries to question my mental health or think that because I can’t justify my thoughts in a succinct way that it’s not real: “Because trying to use logic to explain anxiety is like using a banana to open a locked safe”. Anxiety is not rational and cannot always be understood by others so this line is both absolutely spot on and hilarious!
During Olive’s time at Camp Reset she becomes friends with a group of the other residents, which whilst a little rocky at first was really lovely to read about towards the end. The Prime Numbers, as they called themselves, were an interesting group of friends with a good dynamic. Through these supporting characters the story focuses on a variety of mental illnesses and their sources, some of which I haven’t seen included before in YA such as drug related psychosis.
Out of all the characters I particularly loved Lewis and his caring nerdy-ness (not a word but I’m claiming it). Although I must point out that I do not wholeheartedly agree with the way that Olive treated him sometimes, though at the same time I note that Olive realised that her actions were often wrong and I was really happy to see this.
Throughout the story we saw the exploration of the ups and downs of someones thoughts, the constant worry that comes and goes, panicking that people hating you and are taking something you’ve said the complete wrong way or are thinking you’re a complete weirdo along with the sense of self blame. This really struck a chord with me as this is something that plays through my mind most days!
Bourne also includes discussion of male and female friendships and the common (annoying) misconception that girls and boys can’t just be friends which was refreshing to see in a young adult novel. Along a similar thread, I also want to note the inclusion of male mental health. I feel like a lot of discussion around mental health is focused on young girls and women and I appreciated that men were represented too, as a lot of information has come to light lately on the number of men who actually suffer with their mental health.
Are We All Lemmings & Snowflakes highlights that everybody’s mental health is different and while two people may struggle with the same problem it does not mean that they handle it the same. The message I took from this story the most was to be kind to others but more importantly to be kind to yourself.
I raced through this book in around two days. It kept me gripped from beginning to end and was the perfect balance of serious discussion and comedy relief that complimented each other perfectly as is typical of Bourne’s novels – I loved the shade against Comic Sans! Another amazing book by Holly, I can’t wait to read whatever she writes next. 4/5 stars.