Title: Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes

Author: Holly Bourne

Pages: 384 Pages

Publisher: Usborne

The Blurb

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.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Wow. Holly Bourne has really raised the bar with her young adult novel Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes?

This is Olive’s story. Olive is a girl who is watching her mental health fall apart and feels the sheer isolation and horror over what is happening. She knows things have happened that have lead to her episodes but she can’t even begin to contemplate what they were. She just wants to get better.

When she is offered the chance to go to a summer camp that promises to help her get better she makes the brave decision to go. As she is expected to delve more and more into what her problems are we begin to realise that Olive is her own worst enemy and the saddest part is that she has no control over it.

Olive’s story really broke my heart. Bourne has tapped into the contentious topic of mental health and has given a realistic and shocking account of what mental health is and how it can impact on a person’s life. Furthermore, she has highlighted the growing concern over mental health among teenagers and how society needs to help those most at risk.

Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? by Holly Bourne is available now.

For more information regarding Holly Bourne (@holly_bourneYA) please visit www.hollybourne.co.uk.

For more information regarding Usborne (@Usborne) please visit www.usborne.com.

Title: My Friends Are All Strange

Author: Margaret Lesh

Pages: 230 Pages

Publisher: Margaret Lesh

The Blurb

My friends are all strange.

Right now I’m living at Brookside, a place for people like me. I’ve met a kitty girl, a brooding beautiful boy, one who can’t be touched, and others. My new friends. Strange people. People like me.
I’ve always been different, but lately, more so. My hands sometimes don’t seem to be attached to the rest of me. I cut up all of my clothes. I’m hot, so hot, all of the time. If I sleep, a wizard haunts every dream. I don’t sleep. Sometimes I want to run, but where do you run to when you’re trying to escape your own mind? I don’t know if I’ll ever be the same. I’m smart. I’m nice, sometimes. I just want to be normal(ish). But, right now, my friends are all strange… Like me.

Dark, funny, snarky, seventeen-year-old Becca struggles to cope with mental illness in MY FRIENDS ARE ALL STRANGE, the gripping contemporary young adult companion novel to NORMALISH.

The Review

There has been a growing trend over the past few years to write stories that have mental health at the heart of it. This is a great thing. Without examples of how people are struggling, how are people to learn when to be compassionate. Sure, people should be raised to show compassion but as someone who works with adolescents I can assure you that it isn’t always the case. Therefore, YA fiction that tackles the issues of mental health awareness really is making a difference.

My Friends Are All Strange tells the story of Becca who has always teetered on the edge with her mental health but since the loss of her father her actions have grown more and more manic until she is institutionalised to try and help her come to terms with her condition and also learn to control it. At her mental health facility she meets a plethora of people who have a variety of conditions and we watch Becca and her friends dealing with the hand life dealt them.

Lesh run the risk of having the setting as a mental health facility of creating a competitive nature of look my mental illness is worse than yours. Equally, it could have gone the opposite way of becoming a bit saccharine – I saw all these other people with mental illness and I realised my life isn’t so bad. Fortunately, Lesh did not do this. She handled the topic with dignity and the message that I got from it was that mental health problems can happen to anyone. It doesn’t discriminate.

My Friends Are all Strange is a powerful book and every library needs a copy.

My Friends Are All Strange by Margaret Lesh is available now.

For more information regarding Margaret Lesh (@MargaretLesh) please visit www.margaretlesh.com.

Title: Dear Evan Hansen

Author: Val Emmich

Pages: 368 Pages

Publisher: Little Brown for Young Readers

The Blurb

From the show’s creators comes the groundbreaking novel inspired by the hit Broadway show Dear Evan Hansen

Dear Evan Hansen, 

Today’s going to be an amazing day and here’s why…

When a letter that was never meant to be seen by anyone draws high school senior Evan Hansen into a family’s grief over the loss of their son, he is given the chance of a lifetime: to belong. He just has to stick to a lie he never meant to tell, that the notoriously troubled Connor Murphy was his secret best friend.

Suddenly, Evan isn’t invisible anymore–even to the girl of his dreams. And Connor Murphy’s parents, with their beautiful home on the other side of town, have taken him in like he was their own, desperate to know more about their enigmatic son from his closest friend. As Evan gets pulled deeper into their swirl of anger, regret, and confusion, he knows that what he’s doing can’t be right, but if he’s helping people, how wrong can it be?

No longer tangled in his once-incapacitating anxiety, this new Evan has a purpose. And a website. He’s confident. He’s a viral phenomenon. Every day is amazing. Until everything is in danger of unraveling and he comes face to face with his greatest obstacle: himself.

A simple lie leads to complicated truths in this big-hearted coming-of-age story of grief, authenticity and the struggle to belong in an age of instant connectivity and profound isolation.

The Review

Some books are difficult to read. Not because the words are too hard – I’m a prolific reader and a graduate of English Literature, don’t you know. They are difficult because – as with all books – you have no control over the characters and as much as you would like to subtly whisper in their ears the right choices and the right paths to take, you just can’t.

This was true of Dear Evan Hansen. Oh Evan, what are we going to do with you? Evan finds himself in a completely horrible situation. As the saying goes, he is stuck between a rock and a hard place. On the day that Evan’s classmate Connor Murphy dies he and Evan have had an altercation which leads Connor’s parents to believe that Connor and Evan were friends. More than that, they believe that Connor’s suicide note was left to Evan. Much to Evan’s dismay, the note is actually a letter he wrote to himself on the advice of his therapist. How can he explain himself without ruining the last remnants of hope from Connor’s family and without making himself look crazy in the meantime?

Dear Evan Hansen is cringeworthy in all the right places and you feel yourself spiral deeper into the abyss alongside Evan. You feel the oppressive air become closer and tighter the more and more lies that Evan has to tell. It is a book that you cannot read passively. And the frustrating thing is that you know the story can only end one way but like Evan you keep looking for escape routes. It is that sort of novel.

Dear Evan Hansen has to have been one of the most immersive YA novels that I have read in a long time…and I bloody loved it.

Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich is available now.

For more information regarding Val Emmich (@ValEmmich) please visit www.valemmich.com.

For more information regarding Little Brown for Young Readers (@LittleBrownYR) please visit www.LBYR.com.

Title: Shockaholic

Author: Carrie Fisher

Pages: 176 Pages

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

The Blurb

By the time Carrie Fisher wrote Shockaholic, it had been a roller coaster of a few years since her Tony- and Emmy-nominated, one-woman Broadway show and New York Times bestselling book Wishful Drinking

The electro-convulsive shock therapy she’s been undergoing is threatening to wipe out (what’s left of) her memory. She lost her beloved father, Eddie Fisher, but also her once-upon-a-very-brief-time stepmother, Elizabeth Taylor, as well as over forty pounds of unwanted flesh, all the while staying sober and sane-ish.

Yes, of course, Shockaholic is laugh-out-loud funny, acerbic, and witty as hell. But it also reveals a new side of Carrie Fisher that may even bring a pleasant shock your way: it is contemplative, vulnerable, and ultimately quite tender. From the woman who took us to space and back, we bring you Carrie Fisher: the woman, mother, daughter and of course, Princess.

Carrie Fisher, the daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, became an icon when she starred as Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy. Her star-studded career included roles in numerous films such as The Blues Brothers and When Harry Met Sally. She was the author of four bestselling novels, Surrender in the PinkDelusions of GrandmaThe Best Awful and Postcards from the Edge, which was made into a hit film starring Shirley MacLaine and Meryl Streep. Her first work of non-fiction was the cult hit Wishful Drinking. Carrie’s experience with addiction and mental illness – and her willingness to talk honestly about them – made her a sought-after speaker and respected advocate. She was truly one of the most magical people to walk among us.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Earlier this year I read Carrie Fisher’s book Wishful Drinking. I admitted at the time to know little to nothing about the late actress besides a few roles that she had played but I enjoyed her writing style very much. Therefore, it was with pleasure I read another of Carrie Fisher’s books – Shockaholic.

With her continuing acerbic wit and enthusiastic candour about her mental health struggles I found Shockaholic to be an equally delightful read. She is amusingly self-deprecating whilst also being hyper aware of the unreality of her reality.

Both of the books I have read by Carrie Fisher – Shockaholic and Wishful Drinking celebrate the family nucleus that she herself found so normal in the completely bonkers setting of Hollywood post its golden age.

A very entertaining read for anyone who is a fan of tales of Hollywood.

Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher is available now.

For more information regarding Simon & Schuster (@simonschusterUK) please visit www.simonandschuster.co.uk.

Title: Notes on a Nervous Planet

Author: Matt Haig

Pages: 320 Pages

Publisher: Canongate Books

The Blurb

The world is messing with our minds.

Rates of stress and anxiety are rising. A fast, nervous planet is creating fast and nervous lives. We are more connected, yet feel more alone. And we are encouraged to worry about everything from world politics to our body mass index.

– How can we stay sane on a planet that makes us mad?
– How do we stay human in a technological world?
– How do we feel happy when we are encouraged to be anxious?

After experiencing years of anxiety and panic attacks, these questions became urgent matters of life and death for Matt Haig. And he began to look for the link between what he felt and the world around him. Notes on a Nervous Planet is a personal and vital look at how to feel happy, human and whole in the twenty-first century.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

There are very few people who are as candid as Matt Haig is about mental health – in particular, his own. Matt Haig has spoken openly about how he has been suicidal, how he has panic attacks, how basic things that people take for granted are like mountains he has to climb on a daily basis. For this, I am grateful to Matt Haig.

As someone who suffers with anxiety, I know how easy it is to become introverted and to shut people out of my life due to my condition. I am lucky in the sense that I know the root of my anxiety and I can adapt my life around it (for full disclosures sake my anxiety centres on my Ulcerative Colitis and the locations of bathroom facilities which has led to a mild form of agoraphobia). However, it is rare that someone will speak so honestly about this unknown.

What is great about Notes on a Nervous Planet is that Matt Haig looks at all the bad aspects of mental health but he celebrates all the good stuff in life. He isn’t saying that by looking at all the greatness that life has to offer will change your anxiety or “fix” you but he is showing that there is a light at the end of the darkness.

Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig is available now.

For more information regarding Matt Haig (@matthaig1) please visit www.matthaig.com.

For more information regarding Canongate Books (@canongatebooks) please visit www.canongate.co.uk.