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Book Review - Snowflake

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I finished reading Snowflake last night. I had put it on my list because I heard the author, Louise Nealon, on the podcast Bookoff, and she sounds like a nice person. Honestly, I haven’t heard about this book before.

I knew it’s a bit outside of the “mainstream” but not too much (judging by the fact that she gets invited to podcasts). However, for me, the mainstream consists of books I’ve heard of more than twice (which really could be anything) and anything on the Booker or Costa longlist. I realise this is probably not what you would call the mainstream definition of mainstream.

I loved this book. First (and most importantly), the characters are believable, imperfect, and witty. I would love to be friends with any of them. Second, the gentleness and honesty in Nealon’s description of mental illness are touching and refreshing. Finally, the humour is excellent. I also liked that it’s not overly long (about 250 pages) and, unlike some books I’ve read, doesn’t try to make the book longer just because it should be.

There is the inevitable comparison to Sally Rooney’s Normal People, which is definitely mainstream. That is, I’ve heard about it more than twice before I read it—which was one of the reasons I’ve read it. I have to say, I didn’t like Normal People at all. I had failed to see what the fuss was all about. It felt to me like a book aimed at people who had done an English lit degree, in the same way that The Goldfinch was aimed at people who had done an art history degree. I didn’t like both of them because they made me feel like I don’t know enough stuff.

Here are some quotes I loved from Snowflake:

  • “I’m used to knowing a person’s name, their dog and what their da is like drunk before I risk speaking to them.”

  • “She sounds normal. Grounded. Unspoiled. There has to be something wrong with her.”

  • “It must be exhausting being so profound.”

  • “The bathroom is where I go to recharge, let myself cry and pull myself together just enough to define my edges so I seem solid on the outside.” (that one hit VERY close to home).

  • “They’re slippery, slimy yokes. We prefer to wait until the little life dies and disappears, leaving an empty, clean skeleton.”


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