This isn’t a perfect book; a subplot about prophetic dreams is convenient to the plot but unconvincing, and a thematic emphasis on literal snowflakes doesn’t earn its keep. But Snowflake is much more than the tribute act suggested by its hype. It a sweet, clever coming-of-age novel that finds charity and depth for its older characters as well as the young, and I look forward to seeing what Louise Nealon does next.
This may sound like familiar terrain from other recent novels, most obviously Rooney’s Normal People (like Connell there, “culchie” Debbie, unmoored at college, struggles with depression and drink). But Debbie’s fresh, bleakly funny voice marks her out as original. So are her brilliant, brittle family. These are Beckett-like characters — mythologised, haunted, mired in trauma — using craic as deflection. Gothic, magic realist elements veer towards whimsy, even mawkishness, but are also key to this quirky novel’s tender charm. Screen rights have been bought by the team that adapted the hit TV series of Normal People.