Cover Image: Snowflake

Snowflake

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Member Reviews

A touching and compelling debut novel, Debbie is starting University whilst living on a dairy farm in rural Ireland. The book explores her different worlds, new and old colliding and her finding her feet and navigating and struggling this new life against a backdrop of family relationships, mental health issues and new found friends. It mixes anguish and tragedy along with humor and hope in a deft and engrossing way. It’s beautifully and dexterously written.

I found the mental illness aspect to be very thoughtfully written, not in the slightest sensationalist but also not minimised or demanded in any way. Tender and touching. A very exciting debut, will be keeping my eye on Louise Nealon!
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Snowflake is an interesting story of family bonds, friendship and a village community, with overriding themes of mental health issues and ‘finding your feet in the world’.

I found this book rather slow-going until I was about 40% of the way through.  The story picked up a little after this but overall I didn’t feel there was much of a plot to make this an engaging read for me.  The story also seemed to lack any conclusion - it felt like there was just an abrupt stop.

The story features a real mix of characters and they are well-depicted by the author.  The chapters are short and concise which makes it easier to read.  Snowflake is a good debut novel but lacking the ‘wow-factor’ for me. 

Thank you to the publisher, Manilla Press for an advance digital copy of this book via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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‘Snowflake’ -Louise Nealon
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
⚠️ Death, Mental Health Deterioration, Anxiety, Depression, Gaslighting, Alcoholism & Negligent Parenting ⚠️ 

Snowflakes. A spoilt, entitled generation that ‘have never had it so easy.’ Right? Well, for 18 year old Debbie, this stigma sticks, a lumbering burden that she struggles to carry with her as she negotiates the treacherous waters of adult life. 

True, authentic Irish roots permeates every page of this rich, enlightening book. It perfectly encapsulates modern society; discussing pertinent issues such as mental health, the painful process of growth; mentally, spiritually and physically. We live in a society where culture is continually changing and evolving but one things remains unanimous amongst all living humans; each of us is fighting a battle the other knows nothing about. 

Nealon adopts a unique and distinctive writing style that I predict many will relate to. A provocative debut novel that will open up an important line of discourse regarding mental health in the 21st century. 

Many thanks to NetGalley, Bonnier Books UK and author, Louise Nealon for an eARC of this book to review.

Coming soon!
Publication date: 13th May 2021
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I absolutely loved this book: I couldn’t put it down and I didn’t want it to end. I wanted to curl up in its pages and for the story to carry on past the final page. I can’t stop thinking about this book.

The writing is lyrical and lovely and very atmospheric. The weaving in and out of reality, anchored by the weather and the stars and ancient myths, holds the narrative together. The elements of the mythological both serve to ground the novel and give it an ethereal quality. Greek myths are referred to throughout, and the main character Debbie and her mam both echo Cassandra and her unheard prophecies.

The relationships are powerful, painful and real, and the struggles to love, be loved and accepted (both by others and by yourself) really come through. It’s heartbreaking and poignant and brilliant.

It explores mental health in a really refreshing way. It deals with the ups and downs of therapy, of high expectations and societal pressure. There’s a passage discussing generalised anxiety that I thought was brilliant: having anxiety about the kind of anxiety. The conversation around mental health has improved significantly in recent years, but Snowflake serves to highlight the stigmas that unfortunately remain. 

This book really resonated with me. The characters are hugely sympathetic and believable: their pain and their laughter so raw and moving. 

I loved the writing, I loved this book. I can’t wait to read this book again and again, and I can’t wait for anything else Nealon writes. I recommend it highly.
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I'm not sure how to categorise this book.  It's sort of a coming of age book, but its also not a coming of age book.  Debbie White is about to start at Trinity College in Dublin.  She will commute in every day from the family's dairy farm in Kildare.  Her family is not your normal family.   Her mother, Maeve, spends most of her days in her bedroom asleep or analysing her dreams.  Her Uncle Billy runs the farm and lives in a caravan on the farm.  James, her mother's toy boy lover seems to hold it all together.  Debbie is afraid that she isn't going to make new friends at college, but meets Xanthe who she unwitting calls Santy at first.  They become friends even surviving arguments and boy troubles.  
When Debbie has a strange dream, she is troubled that it has come true and the family is turned upside down.  Maeve has the biggest trouble righting herself, but the incident sends ripples all through the family and friends.
This is one of those books that doesn't tie it up nicely with a bow at the end, it kind of judders to a stop,  However, it was a nice book to read and you can empathise with the characters.
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Irish fiction has a special place in my heart and Snowflake is no exception. 

18-year-old Debbie grew up on a rural dairy farm with her mentally ill Mam and her caravan-dwelling uncle Billy. Debbie begins commuting to Trinity to study English and as a first generation uni student, she faces her own problems there - fitting in amongst her obviously richer peers, especially with new friend Xanthe who seemingly has everything she could ever want. 

Snowflake delves into issues of mental health and a family’s response to it, growing up and fitting in, maintaining friendships when life is at its most difficult and for me, gave off a very important message - you never know what’s happening behind closed doors. 

5 stars for sure, I adored this, devoured it and didn’t want it to end ⭐️
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Snowflake follows 18-year-old Debbie who lives with her mother and her uncle, Billy who sleeps out in a caravan on a dairy farm. Debbie is about to start her English degree at Trinity College in Dublin, which she has her reservations about. The story follows Debbie’s first year at college, making friends, dealing with family issues, when things begin to come apart around her. 

I enjoyed reading this book, and always enjoy reading stories that focus on people at university as it’s a big change in life that I can relate to. This story is about growing up and learning who you are. This novel focuses on mental health, friendship and family. The depictions on mental illness was handled well and seemed realistic – including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, addiction and suicide. Although the book tackles these topics, it was still an easy and funny read. I found Debbie an authentic protagonist in her feelings towards university and her reactions to the events in her life.  

I did feel like some of the plot points and story lines did get a bit lost along the way and would have liked more development and focus on certain aspects such as the dreams. I also did feel a bit detached from the characters, but I don’t know if that was just a me thing as I am feeling that a lot lately. 

Overall, I think so many people will love this story and I would recommend it for an easy read that tackles mental health in a relatable and rich way.

3.5
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There is a chance that this book might be touted as the new "Normal People" as it deals with university life and Irish people.  The similarities stop there though.  "Snowflake" by Louise Nealon is a breath of fresh air.  It shows that however strange or different your background is, you are going to find people who accept you who you are, are jealous of your life and might even want to be you.  Some real gems of incidents in this book that take me right back to university life.
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I have a feeling this could be a very popular book of 2021. I for one really enjoyed it. 

Debbie has grown up on an Irish dairy farm with her mother (who suffers from poor mental health) and her uncle, who lives in a caravan and drinks too much. We meet her as she turns 18 and starts commuting to the world of university, where she meets Xanthe who seemingly has it all. Debbie’s own life is not running smoothly as she struggles to balance between different locations, growing up and trying to get it all together too. 

This book took me quite a while to get into and then I read the last 75% in one fell swoop as it all started to click into place. It’s a very clever novel, with a fairly distinctive writing style and many issues explored. It addresses mental health, the image we send out to others, family, friendship and the fact that everybody is fighting something. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Snowflake by Louise Nealon  Pub Date 13 May 21
Eighteen-year-old Debbie White lives on a dairy farm with her mother, Maeve, and her uncle, Billy. Billy sleeps in a caravan in the garden with a bottle of whiskey and the stars overhead for company. 
Maeve spends her days recording her dreams, which she believes to be prophecies.
Debbie's life is about to change; she is to become a Trinity College student in Dublin. 
Sensitively touching on mental health issues, loss, heartbreak, and family relationships with a touch of humour mixed in, the short and up to the point chapters keep your curiosity to the end.
A well-written, memorable debut, which I enjoyed and am happy to recommend.
I want to thank NetGalley, Bonnier Books UK and author Louise Nealon for a pre-publication copy to review.
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Debbie, 18, lives at home on the farm in an Irish village with her Mum,  and her Uncle Billy lives outside in a caravan.  Debbie has just started her first year at Trinity College and commutes in from the farm. Wildly stepping out of her comfort zone, Snowflake follows Debbie’s journey throughout her first two semesters at college. Her newfound friendship with cosmopolitan Xanthe is an alternate universe to turbulent “family” life on the farm where Debbie not only seeks support from Uncle Billy but often needs to care for her mother, long suffering with mental illness. Snowflake offers an insight in to a variety of mental health conditions  affecting numerous characters. From depression and anxiety to bipolar and suicide and moreover, the effects these conditions can have when ignored and left to spiral. Despite its depth and serious undertones, Snowflake is an easy and hopeful read, with strong character evolution. I longed to know more about the seashells and the power of dreams and really wanted that storyline to go further. On reflection though perhaps the fact it didn’t keeps the book a real and honest portrayal of mental health, keeping the book grounded and true rather than thriller-like in genre.
One of the only books I have read with such a variety of representation of different mental health issues within a functioning, everyday society and this needs applauding. Given that 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health issue at some point in their lives very few books represent this.
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A warm, funny book, but one that contains as much pain as humour.  It reminded me of Milkman by Anna Burns, but I found this to be much more accessible and the characters more real.  This story deals with how one can grow up accepting life as ‘normal’, when it is anything but, yet the naivety of Debbie is part of its charm.  It also gives an insight into he fallout of mental illness.
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Eighteen year old Debbie White grew up on a farm in rural Ireland with her Mum and her Uncle Billy. Billy lives in a tiny caravan in the garden and fills his days tending to cows and knocking back whiskey. Her mother, Maeve, is a writer, whose whole life revolves around recording her dreams, which she believes are prophecies. Starting her studies at Trinity in Dublin, Debbie has a difficult time trying to balance her new student life of drinking and parties, with her ecclectic life family life on the farm. 

This book was an absolute delight! I was immediately invested in the characters and was particularly intrigued by Debbie's relationship with her family. Despite not being a tradional family dynamic, it is one that seems to work. Each of them is complex, imperfect but so endearing. I also enjoyed her college friends, Nealon paints a realistic picture of what starting higher education is and the anxieties that come with those changes. 

I particularly like the dreams, an insight into Debbie's subconscious and how that affects her waking thoughts and feelings. It's is a honest and raw portrayal of mental health struggles and the stigma one might feel surrounding getting help. 

The story has a wonderful arc, with a hopeful and satisfying ending. The prose is fresh, with short, captivating chapters that keep the story moving at a nice pace. The book felt unmistakably Irish and modern, I can see this being popular with fans of Sally Rooney. All in all, an absolutely astounding debut, I can't wait to read anything and everything Nealon writes in future. 

A massive thank you to @netgalley and the publishers for this e-arc in exchange for my honest review
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3.5 stars 

This book is completely different to anything I've read. I don't even know how  put it in words.  It is captivating and weird and beautiful at the same time. It explores many issues: mental health, family, relationships, growing up and leaving home. I particularly enjoyed how the author approached the issue of mental health - showing that it is a very different and personal experience. While the book was heavy to read at points, the writing is funny and gentle. 

I was a bit unsiatisfied with how the story resolved in the end. I think the author spent a lot of time building the problems and really diving into each character's background and then in the end it all tidies up too quickly and neatly in my opinion. 

Overall, I think it is definately a book worth reading, it focuses on mental health and disacovering yourself. It also explores in detail how life on an Irish dairy farm is, which was definately a plus for me!
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This is a really difficult book to write a review of. To me is was a very disjointed story of three members of the same family who are all affected things from their past. Their lives do entwine with each other but not in any coherent way. To me it would have been much better had their been a real plot to the story. Not a bad book by any stretch of the imagination but a little to confusing for my liking
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I really enjoyed this book. I've a soft spot for coming of age stories especially where young women are concerned, and this one is a good one, 

We meet Debbie. a young woman embarking on the adventure of going to Trinity in Dublin. She's grown up in the sticks on a dairy farm (a 'culchie' - country bumpkin as google tells me!) and feels like a fish out of water. We follow her journey as she starts to feel more comfortable in her skin, in her family, with her friends. In particular, we get a glimpse into the mental health problems that have plagued her mother for years, and watch her slowly start to heal after tragedy.

I liked Debbie. I'm not Irish, but I recognised in her the more universal experience of going to a big university, away from family and feeling like you know nothing! I enjoyed her interactions, it felt really real to me and the story had a lovely flow to it. This book just felt like real people living their lives, real and genuine and self-centred. The only part of the book I didn't like is the title!

Thanks very much for the opportunity to read this NetGalley, I really enjoyed it and would like to read more from this author.
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Now I've had the day to think about it....this book was fine. 
I don't know, maybe I'm missing something but yeah, not a favourite for me. 

Snowflake is like the combination of Sally Rooney and the Aisling series, with added unexplained magical realism (maybe?) and more mental illness. 

The characters and atmosphere? Brilliant....but something just didn't connect for me. We never got too into the characters for this to be so character focused, I needed more. Perhaps a re-read of the final version is needed once published, but this just fell so flat. I'm disappointed that this wasn't for me, but lots of people will (and from previous reviews have!) connect with the characters and story more than I did. The depiction of mental illness is really good, and realistic - the story came from the authors own experience with depression and mental illness. So with that said, I think because I had very different experiences with my mental illness I didn't connect as much as others might...

This is not a very good review, but it's because I can't put a finger on what I didn't like. It was a bad book....just the connection to the main character wasn't there for me - which is needed in a book like this. However, the unapologetic Irishness did work for me and was part of the established atmosphere of the book.

I look forward to what Nealon writes in the future, and I am upset that this book didn't connect with me.
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Original  and heartbreakingly truthful, this is a breath of fresh air. Debbie White has a mad mother and an eccentric uncle and is starting at Trinity college Dublin where she knows she won’t fit in.  She does make friends and she finds her way of fitting in only to realise that everyone is trying to cope, not all families are normal and sometimes it takes courage just to survive. A great new voice and writing to savour.
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I gave Snowflake by Louise Nealon 5 stars, not because there wasn't a single fault, but because I did love this from the first paragraph to the last, and found it so very readable (so much so that I finished in two sittings). 

Snowflake is unique, modern yet relatable and moving. This fiction was right up my street with a very strong focus on mental health and its impact on those experiencing the problems as well as those in close contact to those who are. With reference to depression, anxiety, suicide, self-harm, eating disorder, paranoia and psychosis this really did explore mental health in great depth. I especially found Debbie as the protagonist to be incredibly authentic in her response to the events throughout: her withdrawal from social scenes, her fluctuating emotional responses, her loyalty to her family. The very tiny hint of fantasy, not my usual scene, was something that pleasantly surprised me and though I'd have enjoyed this without, it did add another dimension to the story. 

This is told from Debbie's POV through short chapters, and very short paragraphs, which has you instantly engaged. Debbie's life is simple yet complicated, living on a farm with her mum and uncle in a small village, entering the world of the big city through her admission to university. Debbie experiences in part things we all do when we start university: those feelings of awkwardness, embarrassment, excitement and loneliness. At the same time Debbie also has some really quite heavy matters going on at home that affect her much more than she portrays. The characters in this are all so rich and realistic that you feel invested from the start. 

Snowflake was poignant, sad, hopeful and amusing - sometimes all at the same time. This reminded me in parts of Marian Keyes (maybe the Irish thing, maybe the character development) but that is a great compliment from me and I'll be keeping an eye out for Nealon's future work.
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I’m not sure how I felt about this book... I liked the narrative voice and the coming-of-age aspect. The writing is tender with a good amount of harsh reality in it. However, I found it hard to connect with the book for some reason that I can’t quite put my finger on. I appreciated it, but I didn’t love it.
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