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Holly Bourne is the author of Am I Normal Yet?, How Hard Can Love Be?, What’s a Girl Gotta Do?, The Manifesto on How to be Interesting and Soulmates. She graduated with a first class degree in Journalism Studies at University of Sheffield and spent two years working as a local news reporter on the Surrey Mirror, garnering a nomination for Print Journalist of the Year in 2010. During her time there, Holly uncovered many national and international stories that received huge press coverage. She was nominated for Print Journalist of the Year – but found she didn’t have the stomach for the job.
Her first two books, Soulmates and The Manifesto on How to be Interesting, have been critically acclaimed and translated into six languages. Am I Normal Yet? has been chosen as a World Book Night book for 2016, and shortlisted for The Bookseller YA Book Prize.
Her own experiences of blatant sexism, drove her to write Am I Normal Yet? - the first book in the critically acclaimed Normal series about three girls who start their own grassroots feminist campaign group. The trilogy has inspired young girls to start their own groups all over the UK and Holly tours schools and festivals to talk to young people about gender equality. To mark the release of What’s a Girl Gotta Do? – the last book in the trilogy – Holly launched the #IamaFeminist social media campaign which trended worldwide. She lives in Lewes.
She worked as a journalist for TheSite.org an advice and information website for 16-25 year olds, click here to read a Q&A with Holly.
This seminal exploration of mental health begins with an explosion. Olive is on the edge, unable to cope with the volume of noise and people in the world: “I hate humans. I hate that they’re everywhere. But the human I hate most is me”. After a disturbing episode during her dad’s birthday celebrations, she agrees to attend Camp Reset, “the country’s first residential camp for brain wellness”, where young clients are given therapy and encouraged to identify their core beliefs in a plush country setting. Olive knows what her core belief is - “I’m a bad person” - and so a key to her healing will be to switch that into “I am a good person who tries my best.” While struggling with this, and inspired by the “suicide algorithm” the Camp Reset doctors have devised, Olive is struck by her own idea for a cure. She’s a compelling, creative fireball of a character and, though her condition is complex and her journey often dark, she’s also frequently entertaining. After enlisting the help of introverted maths-lover Lewis, it’s not long before Olive’s idea evolves into a wildly big-scale project. Unflinchingly honest and empathetic, this intense novel demonstrates the primary importance of kindness and compassion, that it’s never a persons fault that they’re unwell, and just how essential self-care is. Ladies and Gents, I give you one of the year’s most important YA novels - an engaging and thought-provoking book with tremendous value. Holly Bourne has done it again. - Joanne Owen
Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2018 A feast of feel-good funniness and feminism that cleverly contrasts the impossible magic of movie romance with the heady complexities of real-life love. Talented actress Audrey (named after Hepburn) has just started working in an indie cinema where she begrudgingly serves gourmet hotdogs to the well-heeled inhabitants of Bridgely-upon-Thames alongside zombie-movie-maker and “player” Harry. When set a Critical Research project by her media studies teacher, Audrey decides to write about “why love is never like the movies”, and boy does she know about the devastating disappointments of real-life love, what with her mum seeking solace in alcohol as a result of her dad starting a new family with someone else, and her own experience with an ex who dumped her a week after she lost her virginity to him. No wonder, then, that Audrey’s left wondering what the point of love is, and the project excerpts that appear as chapter intros wittily expound her views. But this hard-held conviction is put to the test when Audrey agrees to play a “feminist freedom fighter zombie bride” in Harry’s new movie, and finds that she might just be falling for him. Tackling complex issues around relationships, sex, alcoholism and movie cliché madness with a nimble lightness of touch, this is contemporary YA at it’s finest: hilarious, heartfelt, and wholly recommended.
In a nutshell: auld lang syne with the Spinster Club The end of What’s A Girl Gotta Do saw the three members of the Spinster Club heading off their different ways, now in this special short novel, Holly Bourne reunites them in the pressure cooker of a New Year’s Eve party: how have they coped? We discover that Lottie is planning to move to America, that Amber isn’t enjoying uni life as much as she’s been making out, and that Evie is struggling to support her boyfriend with his anxiety disorder. After an awkward start, they finally have one of those conversations that characterise their friendship, helping each other realise what is best for them, and giving themselves the confidence to go after it. Bourne understands her readership perfectly and writes for them with huge insight and affection, and this is a typically authentic, funny, and inspiring read. Readers will also enjoy Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven. ~ Andrea Reece
August 2016 NewGen Book of the Month. In a Nutshell: Feminism * Friendship * Fighting back Inspirational and insanely funny, this third and final book in the Normal trilogy is a motivating must-read manifesto for young women, not to mention a powerful wake-up call for detractors of feminism. When two men subject Lottie to threatening sexual harassment, she feels embarrassed, afraid and, most of all, outrage at the male entitlement that led them to believe “my body was theirs to comment on”. With the backing of her college FemSoc and Spinster Club friends, she decides to (literally) call-out every single instance of sexism for an entire month by honking on a clown’s horn, and so the Vagilante Project is born. To help the Project gain ground, and to document her experiences, Lottie reluctantly recruits aspiring filmmaker Will. While he might be a “cocky jerk”, Will’s talent (and hipster good looks) can’t be denied and the campaign soon attracts major media attention. But the Project’s stresses take their toll on both her mental health and grades as her Cambridge University entrance interview looms. If that wasn’t enough, national coverage of the Vagilante Project brings out the trolls, and Lottie has to dig deep to stay sane and keep all her goals in her grasp. For me, one of this novel’s highpoints is its incisive exploration of cognitive dissonance. For example, Lottie knows the social norm of having hair-free legs is a patriarchal imposition, but it takes great guts to ditch the razor and go au naturel. That such issues are handled with both insight and humour makes this novel all the more authentic, and Lottie’s story is full of madly funny moments, such as when she mimics a man-spreader on the tube, or when she staggers from Will “like some pissed-up feminist gingerbread man” because she doesn’t need a male companion to walk her home. Packed with wit, warmth, honesty and passion, this novel will surely forge a path of empowerment for legions of young women (we could do with a real-life Lottie realising her ambition to become Prime Minister), while eliciting more than a few belly laughs along the way. ~ Joanne Owen
One of our YA Books of the Year 2016. February 2016 NewGen Book of the Month. Holly Bourne’s new novel demonstrates that with the right female friends, and a decent supply of cheesy snacks, a girl can get through anything. Amber is in America spending summer with the mum she hasn’t seen in two years. Outwardly Amber seems confident, brash even, but underneath she is full of insecurities, like most teens, and still deeply hurt by her mother’s decision to leave her. A romance with gorgeous Kyle – also not what he seems – helps her see herself and the world differently but her real support comes from best friends Evie and Lottie via their cheery, empowering Skype chats. Well-written and thoughtful, this has a thoroughly authentic twenty-first century teen voice and lightens serious issues with humour. ~ Andrea Reece Readers will also enjoy Bourne’s Am I Normal Yet? in which Evie takes the central role, and Ann Brashares The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants.
A 2016 World Book Night selection. August 2015 NewGen Book of the Month. Evie is starting sixth form college and like any normal young person wants to fit in and make friends, and she’d like a boyfriend too. It’s challenging for Evie though because she’s also coping with anxiety disorder, something she’s determined to keep secret from even her closest new friends, Amber and Lottie. Teenage girls, as anyone who lives with or indeed is one will know, are some of the funniest and brightest people around and this is a wonderfully vivid story of female friendship in all its glory. The descriptions of Evie’s condition leave the reader in no doubt as to the depth of her suffering, but this is a positive, often very funny, and life-affirming read. ~ Andrea Reece
Bree is by no means popular. Most of the time, she hates her life, her school, her never-there parents. So she writes. But when Bree is told she needs to stop shutting the world out and start living a life worth writing about, The Manifesto on How to be Interesting is born. Bree starts a blog to track her progress and the experiment begins… Six steps on how to be interesting. How to be someone people want to read about. The Manifesto will change everything, but at what cost? True friendship? Dignity? Self-respect? Her health? Or all of the above? You’ll just have to read Bree’s story to find out…
Introducing Poppy, 17-year-old cynic, and Noah, heart-throb guitarist: residents of mediocre Middletown, sometime students and…soulmates. After a chance meeting at a local band night, Poppy and Noah find themselves swept up in a whirlwind romance unlike anything they’ve ever experienced before. But with a secret international agency preparing to separate them, a trail of destruction rumbling in their wake, (and a looming psychology coursework deadline), they are left with an impossible choice between the end of the world, or a life without love… A home-grown young author with a fearless freshness, poised to take the YA market by storm. Perfect for fans of Louise Rennison, Sophie McKenzie and Cassandra Clare. In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion for Soulmates a small number of readers were lucky enough to be invited to review this title. Here's a taster....'This book is Amazing! 5*s! It’s a breathtaking adventure that brings you both joy and sadness.' Scroll down to read more reviews...