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Summary

A novel for a generation. 

Performed by Louisa Harland (Derry Girls, The Deceived)

Eighteen-year-old Debbie White lives on a dairy farm with her mother, Maeve, and her uncle, Billy. Billy sleeps out 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.

This world is Debbie's normal, but she is about to step into life as a student at Trinity College in Dublin. As she navigates between sophisticated new friends and the family bubble, things begin to unravel. Maeve's eccentricity tilts into something darker, while Billy's drinking gets worse. Debbie struggles to cope with the weirdest, most difficult parts of herself, her family and her small life. But the fierce love of the White family is never in doubt, and Debbie discovers that even the oddest of families are places of safety.

A startling, honest, laugh-and-cry novel about growing up and leaving home, only to find that you've taken it with you, Snowflake is a novel for a generation, and for everyone who's taken those first, terrifying steps towards adulthood.

©2020 Louise Nealon (P)2020 Bonnier Books UK

Critic reviews

"A beautiful novel; tender, laugh-out-loud funny and deeply moving." (Louise O'Neill)

"Mad and wonderful." (Roddy Doyle) 

"Astonishing. Louise Nealon is a ridiculously talented writer." (Stacey Halls)

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What listeners say about Snowflake

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Excellent

For some reason I didn’t think I was going to like this book, but to my happy surprise I loved it. Funny, well crafted, heart rending and handling mental illness full on without sentimentality, it was refreshing and beautifullly, masterfully read by Louisa Harland. Excellent

6 people found this helpful

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A truly beautiful book

A wonderful book, Louise uses such evocative language that made me feel like I was in her head throughout. I was on an emotional roller coaster ride that I didn't want to end. a truly great read. Well done

6 people found this helpful

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Brilliant

The best book I've listened to this year very real story just not talked about that much a must read

3 people found this helpful

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'Snowflakes' are tougher than some of us think



18 year-old Debbie lives and helps on the family dairy farm in County Kildare. Her uncle Billy who lives in a farm caravan is the mainstay, her mother’s much younger partner having recently taken his own life and her mother, a free spirit, suffering from a range of mental health issues as well as grief. With this background it’s no surprise that adjusting to her first term at Trinity College Dublin is a challenge beyond Debbie’s frail anxieties and depression. Milking cows is such a leap to university life Debbie fails to cope despite the very deep friendship she develops with fellow student Xanthe who behind her carapace of sophistication has destructive issues of her own.
It’s very beautifully written and read, packed with subtle visual detail s of place and nature (especially snowflakes and sea shells) and it is also a heartfelt creation of the struggles experienced by those (including the author herself) dogged by mental difficulties. The way in which alcohol can only make things a great deal worse is well illustrated – inexperienced Debbie drinks to oblivion and doesn’t know whether or not she’d had sex with the most recent young man she’s taken back to her shared flat; Billy is saved only just in time from his alcohol-fed demons. This may make Snowflake seem a depressing novel but its positivity and vitality prevents it from being so. This is Louise Nealon’s first novel and it is a remarkable achievement not easily forgotten.
My only criticism is that I could have done with less of the detailed female bodily descriptions which I thought were a mis-judgement. Otherwise Snowflake is a highly individual and unusual and powerful novel which so many listeners, particularly young women, will find themselves and not feel alone.

1 person found this helpful

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Not perfect, but great

Loved the first two-thirds of this debut. Perhaps it's just me, but I felt the pace rocketed towards the end, and I felt like I was reading a different book for the last third. That said, very enjoyable and look forward to the next book from the author.

1 person found this helpful

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compelling

beautifully narrated, compelling, I couldn't put it down, at all times I was fully immersed in the story

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An amazing performance by Louisa Harland

An amazing book but the performance is incredibly powerful. I can’t recommend this book highly enough, a very moving piece. It has spoken to me on so many levels.

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Beautiful

Beautiful book which I listened to in one sitting. I’ll definitely listen again. Heartwarming and heartbreaking with wonderful real characters.

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Honest ,Irish,no frills, addictive

I loved the book, it was so true to Irish country life, so real, so tragic , witty , funny, sad. Couldn’t stop listening, the narration was perfect, couldn’t ask for more, I’d highly recommend it.
An original story.

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Great audiobook, excellent narration.

it was great to escape, reflect on and be immersed in the lives of Debbie, "Santy", Maebh and Billy.