“All through life, we were told never to be different. We needed to fit in with the popular kids and follow all of these trends like our lives depended on it if we planned on having any kind of happiness or social life. But sometimes, being different was good, and it meant being human.”
Oliver Hurst's life is in shambles: his SAT scores were less than stellar, his one and only friend recently moved to Utah, and he's suffering from depression. Belonging to a highly religious family, his mother automatically associates his behavior with the work of the devil, calling upon the local church for support. An exorcism appears to be in order until Oliver utters a careless, nonchalant statement which places him in an adolescent psych ward. During his first several days there, his anxiety and depression become more apparent. When he eventually comes to the realization that he is not alone, however, he begins to connect with the other patients, particularly a girl by the name of Lacey Waters. As he struggles to overcome his depression, Oliver embarks on a journey of self-discovery.
The first aspect of the book that initially stood out to me was the narration. Oliver serves as the first person narrator, conveying information to the reader in a direct and to the point manner. The narration mimics the speech of a teenage boy, explaining the word choice and dialogue. Once I came to this conclusion after the first three or four chapters, I found the book to be a much easier read.
I loved Oliver's characterization. He provided readers with insight to his thoughts and emotions, which ranged from frustrated to anxious to elated in a matter of pages. On numerous occasions, he inserted small bits of humor to lighten the overall mood of the book. Most importantly, he is one of the rare, down to earth characters in modern day literature, remaining open and honest with readers. My only complaint about Oliver is his impulsive and rash behavior at certain points throughout the book. For example, he blurts out during a family dinner that he wants to kill himself, without considering the meaning or weight of his words. Overall, however, he was a fairly well-rounded character with an interesting outlook on the world around him.
Instead of viewing his time in the psych ward in a pessimistic light, Oliver considered it a vacation from his stifling, over-zealous mother. His mother was, by far, the most frustrating character in the book. She constantly smothered Oliver's entire family with Gospel hymns, charity fund raisers, and rosary beads. Her faith-driven antics resurface throughout the book, contributing to my growing dislike for her. Therefore, it's no surprise that Oliver finds himself enjoying his stay at the psych ward. Luckily, karma rears its ugly head toward the end of the book when her true colors replace her devout facade.
The plot was original, to say the least, but I found this book challenging to get into. That may be the result of the book taking place over the course of only ten days. Certain events seemed long and drawn out, and, in some cases, unnecessary altogether. Others were abruptly cut short, resulting in an awkward transition to the next event.
I was slightly disappointed that the title was not integrated more into the book itself. Snowflakes were only mentioned during two scenes throughout the book, rendering the title a bit misleading. I wish they had had more significance in the text, instead if serving merely as a backdrop for certain scenes to take place. I would have enjoyed the book even more if the concept behind the snowflakes had been more thoroughly explained and incorporated into the novel.
The ending is a bit of a jaw dropper. In the concluding chapters, the author gradually builds up to a rather shocking event, taking readers on an emotional roller coaster. Personally, I felt that the ending was one of the weaker aspects of the book. It seemed rushed and wasn't well executed, falling short of my expectations. The ending did not, however, drastically change my thoughts on the book as a whole, as evidenced by my review. I would definitely recommend this to anyone in search of a quick, easy romance that avoids many of the stereotypes in recent YA releases.This book was received as an ARC in an exchange for an honest review.