Are We All Lemmings And Snowflakes? is the eighth book from one of the best known voices in YA at the moment, Holly Bourne. In it we meet Olive, who is spending four weeks at Camp Reset in an attempt to have a shot at “normality” when her mental health takes a turn for the worse. Whilst there, Olive makes friends with a group of friends who all have their own mental health problems, and together they formulate a plan that is sure to make themselves better.
Although Are We All Lemmings And Snowflakes? follows some very similar themes to Am I Normal Yet?, the feel of this book is very different. Where Am I Normal Yet? had humour, Are We All Lemmings And Snowflakes? is darker and has a much stronger focus on the internal monologue of someone with mental illness. As a result, Olive’s voice as a narrator sounds more mature than Evie’s did in Am I Normal Yet?, and avid readers of Holly’s books are sure to recognise how her writing has developed over the past few years. Not only that, but this book is also much more serious and hard hitting than Holly’s previous books have been, and sometimes makes for quite a difficult read. That said, it is definitely worth persevering as much as the reader can, because the message portrayed in the later stages of the book is wonderful and definitely worth the wait.
With both books being based in residential rehabilitation centres, Are We All Lemmings And Snowflakes? is bound to draw comparisons with Juno Dawson’s Clean. But this is where the comparisons will end. Where the narrator in Clean was selfish and largely unlikeable, in Are We All Lemmings And Snowflakes? Olive is passionate and caring, but makes a lot of bad choices because of the place she is in mentally. However, as she makes friends we see her grow and develop, learning to be kinder to herself through the love and support they show her. Although ultimately, as we see in the book, there is much more to mental health recovery than this, this is an important lesson for Olive to learn, and one that will stick out in the minds of readers as well.
If there’s one thing readers should take away from reading Are We All Lemmings And Snowflakes?, it shouldn’t necessarily be about mental illness and raising awareness around it (although, of course, that is incredibly important and it’s always great to see YA voices portraying this). Throughout the book, the clients at Camp Reset are encouraged to think more positively, and Olive encourages her friends to be kinder, both to themselves and to other people. It is this message that stands out at the end, and this message that is sure to have an impact long after the book is finished.