Olive wasn’t trying to kill herself, she just wanted all the noise to stop. Well that’s what she tells herself and her family when she’s committed to A&E. Her doctor thinks she would be a great candidate for an experimental programme, a summer camp for mentally ill teens.
Once she gets to Camp Reset, it doesn’t take long for Olive to put her foot in it, upsetting other patients and setting herself apart from the group. She resists therapy and is unable to chat to others about her diagnosis because she never found out.
You don’t have to stop looking after yourself just to help the world.
Olive doesn’t want to know her diagnosis, she doesn’t want a label that she can use as an excuse. However it does not take long for her thoughts and actions to hint at bipolar disorder. Holly Bourne is excellent at writing about mental health and the disorganised and often illogical thoughts that go with an illness.
She meets a boy who loves maths and thinks it can save the world, which gets her thinking. Maybe it’s the world that needs changing, that kindness can cure mental illness. The title comes from the idea that young people are constantly being called special snowflakes or that they just follow the crowd. Left unacknowledged, mental illness in teens can go on to become a lifelong struggle, so we should be trying to help earlier on. That we could do worse than being kind and compassionate to those younger than us.
I think real kindness, real compassion, is having the strength to stop and try and see where another person is coming from. To try and work out why they’re being the way they’re being. It takes time and patience. It’s not easy, but that’s real kindness.
The plot isn’t the strongest out of Holly’s young adult novels, perhaps because it’s accurately reflecting Olive’s state of mind. I did like the central message and the kindness is contagious tagline.
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