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Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes?

My whole body vibrates on nervous alert as we go up the stairs, then steer down narrow hallways, looking for my room number. Even with my medication, my anxiety about the noise is kicking in. I hear music echo tinnily under one door and almost vomit when I think I may be their neighbour. But the hallway goes on and on and gets narrower, almost like an optical illusion, until, right at the end, around a corner, we see my number. Room 101.
“I don’t know if that’s a good omen or a bad one,” Mum jokes, pointing at the number.
“Maybe it’s a good sign? I’ll condemn my madness to Room 101 for ever.”
Mum looks sad for a moment. “Oh, Olive, you’re not mad. You’re just…”
“Happiness challenged?”
“No…”
“Coming down with a touch of insanity?”
“No…”
“Mentally high-maintenance?”
She laughs at that one. “Just open the door already.”
I was delaying opening the door, too scared about what I’d find inside. But I sigh and swipe my card. The door clicks open and in I go.
It’s like a very posh hotel room. There’s a giant double bed, a desk, a chair, a small sofa, and a built-in cupboard. All the furniture is black and shiny, contrasting with the silky white wallpaper.
“Looks nice, Olive.” Mum sets my bags down. “Very nice.”
But I’m already pacing around it. Opening the window, leaning out. Freaking out.
I’m looking for noise.
“Ooo, the shower looks lovely,” Mum says but I shush her as I can’t listen for noise when she’s talking. We stay quiet and my ears are practically up on stalks, trying to work out if I can hear music, or voices, or anything really. Luckily there’s carpet. That’s an insulator.
“Olive? Seriously, what are you doing now?”
I’m getting down onto my stomach and putting my ear to the ground, that’s what I’m doing. All I hear is silence. Wonderful, hopeful, peaceful silence. I scramble up and lean out the window. Later on I may take in how stunning the view is, but, for now, I’m just scanning it for traces of noise. I listen out for distant road noise. Then I hang totally over the sill, Mum squawking behind me, and try and see what’s above and below me. There doesn’t seem to be any extractor fans, or kitchens, or air vents and my stomach relaxes just a little. I’m smiling as I turn back to Mum.
“It’s an okay room, isn’t it?”
She’s watching me closely, sadly. I don’t care though. Not now the room has passed the initial test. I mean, later, at night-time, that will be the real test. I won’t fully relax until I’ve had at least three nights here without hearing ANYTHING – only then will it pass as safe. But I feel vaguely optimistic. Though, as Mum starts unpacking for me, I realize that she’ll be leaving soon. She senses my panic and moves over to hug me. “There there,” she says, before I’ve even freaked out.
“Oh God, Mum, what am I doing?”
She pats my hair. “Something that you can walk away from whenever you want.”

 

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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?

  • Nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2019

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Book information

Age
14+
BIC CBMC
E3N79
Paperback
ISBN: 9781474933612
Extent: 348 pages
Dimensions: 198 x 130mm

Author information

Holly Bourne

Holly Bourne is an author and a journalist. Holly's first two books, Soulmates and The Manifesto on How to be Interesting, have been critically acclaimed and translated into six languages. The first book in the Spinster Club series, Am I Normal Yet?, was chosen as a World Book Night book for 2016 and was shortlisted for the YA Book Prize. The Spinster Club series has also inspired the formation of Spinster Clubs across the UK and Ireland. Before becoming a full-time author, Holly was editor of TheSite.org - a charity-run advice and information website for young people.

Read more about Holly Bourne

Visit www.hollybourne.co.uk to find out more.

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Press reviews

“As ever, bestselling young adult author Holly Bourne tackles a serious subject with humour and sensitivity.”
“Alongside an intriguing concept, there are shrewd observations about mental health issues… that will reassure readers this is a book (and an author) that does, actually, ‘get’ it.”
“Holly Bourne applies her inimitable surreal humour to the dark reaches of the disordered mind… Olive’s passionate desire to spread a ‘kindness virus’ is tremendously endearing as she flies the flag for courage and altruism.”

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