Welcome to Camp Rest, 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…
I adore camp-based YA, and the “met at group therapy” trope. So, when I pre-ordered Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? by Holly Bourne, I was certain that I was going to love it. And, given that I’ve already fallen for a lot of Holly’s novels, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to be let down.
I certainly wasn’t. It’s a mildly uncomfortable read, but one that is absolutely intoxicating. Bourne places you directly in her protagonist Olive’s manic sphere, compelling you to understand and empathise with her illness. She is spectacularly well-written – convinced, in a manic phase, that she can cure mental illness, to the extent that she convinces the reader of it too. It’s upsetting to read, but offers a level of insight into Bipolar Disorder that I have never experienced before, and am very thankful for.
Olive’s manic thoughts absorb large portions of the novel, but the acts inspired by this, and the kindness present throughout, is ludicrously heartwarming. And it has the most INCREDIBLE ending. It doesn’t sugar coat the ghastly nature of mental illness, but still floods you with hope.
I rarely read in one sitting, but I couldn’t stop myself when reading AWALAS?, despite it being a 400 page novel. And it might be because I read it very quickly that I think this, but everything moves incredibly fast. Olive flies from plan to plan, and thought to thought, with a pace that leaves you little time to breath. However, this is not necessarily a negative. It works well with her character; mimicking exactly what’s happening inside her head. I do wish that I could have spent a little more time with the other characters, but I can appreciate it would have distracted from Olive’s arc, and the plot itself.
If you’re in need of an author that writes teens as they are (period stained pants and all) then you NEED Holly Bourne and her characters in your life. Holly doesn’t write caricatures of teenage life, but instead writes teens with jarringly real problems, that are not blessed with quick fixes and happy endings.
Some of my favourites from this novel include:
Sophie, who has a beautiful character arc.
Lewis, who is a colossal nerd that excels at maths, and has a torrent of emotion bubbling under the surface. And when that surface cracks, you can’t help but fall for him.
Jamie, who is handsome, and a bit of an ass, but more than meets the eye. There are moments peppered throughout the novel that feature his brutal honesty that are incredibly gripping, and a scene that moves everyone to tears (including me).
Olive may be my favourite character of Holly’s. It’s often difficult to like her, even if you are able to relate to her, but that’s what makes her brilliant. She isn’t sugar coated, nor is she moulded to fit any traditional standard of YA female. Weirdly, I’d yet to read a YA protagonist that a lot of boys are attracted to until Olive. I certainly can’t relate, but it’s nice to have something that contrasts with the usual shy, reserved female lead. Though she may be very frustrating, you can’t deny that she has a ludicrously warm heart. Her desire to spread love and kindness is perhaps my favourite thing about the novel.
THAT’S A WRAP
It really is a wonderful read, and I cannot tell you how much I adore Holly! I don’t, however, recommend reading it in one sitting – it is a pretty intense read, so I’d stretch it out a little bit.
If you’d like to buy it, you can do so here! But just a heads up: as an Amazon affiliate, if you do purchase through that link, I’ll earn a small commission. This, by no means, effects my review.
As always, thank you for reading!