Snowflake by Louise Nealon

Thank you to Manilla Press and Readers First for a copy of this debut novel to read and review.


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.

My thoughts:

Having read and enjoyed the opening chapters on Readers First, I was pleased to be able to continue reading about how Debbie was coping with starting University.

Debbie starts University as a commuter, still living on the family farm and travelling in, rather than living in student accommodation. She initially tries to blend in, to be inconspicuous to everyone else at Trinity.

She has to try to juggle her two different worlds, the academic challenges of studying English at a top University and the mental health challenges of her family, especially when a tragedy happens at home.

Debbie has to grow up fast in her first few months at University, to work out who she is, what she wants to become and who are the important people in her life. She also needs to learn that money doesn’t always buy happiness.

This isn’t a light hearted read, with a number of different mental health issues being covered. However, I found it to be a thoughtful and inspired debut novel about a young woman who needs to believe in her own self worth. I look forward to reading more from Louise Nealon in the future.


By Karen K is reading

An avid reader from the age of 4. Love escaping into a good novel after a busy day working with students. Mum. Adopter of dogs.

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