I mentioned in yesterday’s Bibliophile post that Holly Bourne is the reason I fell back in love with young adult books in my twenties. If it wasn’t for Soulmates, I would never have heard of The Spinster Trilogy, I probably would never have read The Fault in Our Stars (and subsequently everything else John Green has ever written), and I wouldn’t have taken a chance on the likes of The Next Together and Caraval.
Holly’s experience working for a youth charity, helping young people with their relationships and mental health, sets her apart from most other writers working in the young adult genre, so I was excited to see that she had written a(nother) book about mental health (Am I Normal Yet?, the first in the Spinster Trilogy, is fantastic).
Are We All Lemmings & Snowflakes centres on Olive in the summer right after her GCSEs. At a time when her friends are celebrating the end of exams, partying and looking forward to the next stage of their lives, she’s heading off to Camp Reset, an alternative summer camp aimed at helping young people to cope with their mental health.
You have a different perspective reading a young adult novel when you’re no longer the target audience, particularly when you’ve battled similar problems and come out the other side.
Reading about Olive and her fellow campers at nearly twice their age, and with a child of my own, I worry so much for young people and the absolute shit they have to go through, which is why this novel is so great. It preaches (without getting preachy) kindness and compassion, not just to others but to yourself. It’s such a fantastic message and something that I think we could all do with a reminder of every now and then.
The kindness is contagious campaign ran alongside the launch and I’d love to see it become more widespread. I work with young people myself and support regular mental health and de-stress campaigns, so I’ll certainly be taking some of the ideas forward myself.
Anyone who pre-ordered the book and emailed the Usborne press team received a kindness is contagious package, including a pin badge, tea, and an origami helicopter containing a kindness message. Such a simple yet impactful message.
There are also some great links on Holly’s website, including info on her 11 days of kindness challenge. Have a go for yourself.
Roxane Gay: “Books are often far more than just books”.
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