After wowing with the award-winning The Art of Being Normal, and her most recent offering All About Mia, YA author Lisa Williamson is back with another book which is going to hit you in the feels.
Paper Avalanche tells the story of 14-year-old Ro Snow who has a big secret and the whole world on her shoulders. Her life revolves around protecting her hoarder mum Bonnie, whose addiction is out of control. Fearful that social services will find out and split them up, or a fate even worse than that, Ro isolates herself from the world in a bid to stop it from falling apart.
With no school friends, Ro’s life is a lonely one as she does everything in her power to stop her secret from unravelling. The one person she should be able to turn to, her dad, is too busy playing happy families with his new wife and daughter, after escaping the unhappiness at number 48 Arcadia Avenue.
Whilst hoarding is at the heart of the book, Paper Avalanche is also a story of blossoming friendships, romance, and finding your voice. The addition of bubbly Tanvi and mysterious Noah, who both carry their own hardships, turns Ro’s life completely upside down, making it increasingly difficult to keep her secret hidden. Ro also embarks on a personal journey which gives her a glimpse into what an alternative life for her could look like.
As the protagonist, Ro is completely captivating. Whilst her character is often cold towards others, when knowing her back story it’s clear to see why she firmly has her guard up. At the heart of it all, she is a good person who just wants to live a normal life and you can’t help but root for her. No 14-year-old should have to live the life she does and be the ‘adult’ in her relationship with Bonnie.
Tanvi is also a much needed breath of fresh air within the book. Despite Ro’s attitude towards her, she continues to pursue her as a friend and breathes new life into Ro. She has a wonderful outlook on life, and is the friend we all hope to have. Whilst Tanvi and Ro are total opposites, it’s incredibly enjoyable to watch their friendship blossom over time.
There are also characters which will get under your skin, such as Ro’s dad and his new family. Their selfishness and inability to see and face up to a problem which is right under their nose will anger you no end.
Lisa Williamson’s style of writing is so inviting, and as a British reader, the use of British slang makes it feel a lot more relatable. Despite discussing complex and, at times, dark topics, Lisa manages to uplift the story with lashings of humour and hope. Her particular way of story-telling makes it hard to put Paper Avalanche down, and will leave you wanting to embrace it all in one sitting.
Paper Avalanche is released on January 3.
For more information on Lisa Williamson, follow her on Twitter.
Thank you to David Fickling Books for providing an advance copy.