Book Review: Paper Avalanche by Lisa Williamson

Paper Avalanche by Lisa Williamson
Release Date: 3rd January 2019
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Pages: 368

Buy: Hardback eBook   

When it comes to flying under the radar, Ro Snow is the expert. No friends. No boys. No parties. And strictly NO VISITORS. It may be lonely but at least this way the truth remains where it should - hidden. Then Tanvi Shah, the girl who almost died, comes tumbling back into her life and Ro finds herself losing control of her carefully constructed lies. Because if Ro's walls come crumbling down, who's going to take care of Bonnie... Bonnie. Never Mum or Mummy or Mother. Just Bonnie.

Ro Snow isn't your average fourteen year old. Happy blending in to the background, Ro shies away from having friends and does her utmost to ensure that she flies under the radar at school. Having friends would complicate things - and Ro has more than enough on her plate at home.
And home is certainly not a happy place for Ro and her Mum, Bonnie. 48 Arcadia Avenue is not what you could call a cosy family home. Full to the brim of paper, cards and just general rubbish, Ro has found herself getting used to living alongside Bonnie and her hoarding habit. The two have the ultimate parent/child role reversal, as Bonnie lives a carefree life, spending money they don't have on useless objects as her hoarding begins to worsen, whilst Ro struggles to keep up the facade that they are a perfectly normal family whilst she worries about bills and social services getting wind of the situation.
However, Ro's life looks set to be firmly turned on its head when former pupil, Tanvi Shah, comes back to school after recovering from cancer. Tanvi ends up sitting next to Ro and latches on to her immediately. Ro does her utmost to resist Tanvi's attempts at friendship but it's not that easy. It soon becomes apparent that Tanvi Shah is a force to be reckoned with; but will Ro let her carefully constructed facade slip and risk all of her secrets being uncovered?

Lisa Williamson is a new author to me. Despite hearing amazing things about award-winning The Art of Being Normal and All About Mia, she is an author who has been on my 'want to read' list for a while but for some inexplicable reason I have never got round to discovering her books until now.
I was greatly intrigued by the subject matter of the story; hoarding is a topic I know very little about and I don't recall reading anything based around this condition before, therefore I had no idea what to expect from Paper Avalanche. 

One thing I certainly wasn't expecting was for this novel to touch me in quite the way it did. I NEEDED TISSUES AND EVERYTHING.

There's so much I want to say about Paper Avalanche that I don't really know where to start. This novel is such a whirlwind of emotion and it is one of the most heartfelt and powerful YA novels I think I have ever read.

Firstly, let's talk about Ro. Ro Snow is such a inspiring, wonderful character. The amount of responsibility she is shouldering is off the scale and my heart continuously broke for her. No fourteen year old should have to live the way she is being forced to live, deliberately hiding herself away from the world in order for her way of life to remain a secret. The more I got to know Ro, the more I absolutely adored her. And we, as the reader, are lucky that we get the opportunity to get to know Ro as it's something that those around her don't get the privilege of. She is the most mature fourteen year old you'll ever meet as she frets about finances and is much more of an adult than Bonnie; when she should be doing what other children her age are doing - (y'know, parties, crushing on boys, that kind of thing...)
She has a really strong voice and makes for a wonderful lead. You can't help but like Ro and I guarantee you will be wanting everything to work out for her. I wanted to just give her the biggest hug and tell her that she shouldn't have to worry about all these grown-up things yet.
The character of Bonnie really frustrated me, I understand that she was suffering with an illness, but I also found her behaviour towards Ro to be selfish and at times, quite spiteful. I just wanted to give her a good old shake! How could she treat her daughter like this? The daughter who does everything for her. It's definitely a nod to Lisa's fantastic writing how much emotion this character made me feel. Ro's Dad was another one who evoked VERY strong feelings in me, and not in a good way. His behaviour was appalling, especially as he knew what Bonnie was like, yet he was happy to subject his daughter to living in those conditions. Urgh...I can't even.
Then we have Tanvi. Possibly one of my favourite fictional YA characters EVER. Tanvi is so full of energy and life, despite all that she's been through and I really admired her positive outlook. She is determined that she and Ro will be friends and I love how she never gives up on their friendship, despite Ro's best attempts to sabotage things. I just loved her. I loved her enthusiasm, her personality...Just everything. I want her as my best friend.

There was nothing about Paper Avalanche that I didn't love. The writing, the storyline, the characters. I got completely swept up with Ro and her heartbreaking life and I wasn't ready to re-enter the real world until things had reached a conclusion.
I can't believe it has taken me this long to discover Lisa's wonderful writing (although I have quickly rectified this, thank you Amazon Prime...) and I can't wait to read more from her. She wrote about a perhaps lesser known subject with knowledge, warmth, emotion and sensitivity. There were also plenty of genuinely funny moments throughout the book too and I loved how Lisa achieved the difficult balance between humour and a more serious side to the story.

On a more materialistic (yet still important!) note, I loved the cover of Paper Avalanche. Simplistic, yet eye catching, there is no way you could see this hot-pink beauty sat on the shelves at Waterstones and walk past it.

Paper Avalanche is a must-read for any age; as long as you appreciate powerful stories that are full of emotion, friendship and most importantly, hope.



  1. This sounds like an intense and interesting story. Fantastic review.

  2. I've not heard of the book before, sounds good. Great review.

  3. Contemporary isn't usually my genre and that cover, although lovely, is too cutsey to catch my attention but the subject matter and story of this one intrigue me.
    Gemma @ Gemma's Book Nook

  4. New author for me, you have me wanting this

  5. Never heard of this! It takes a lot to make a book get to me emotionally so I'll have to try and see if this one succeeds!

  6. new book and new author for me.. but i definitely want to read this now

  7. New to me, but you have me so interested - thanks for sharing!

  8. Amazing review, this is actually the first time I have heard or seen this book and it looks and sounds absolutely amazingly great. I am really glad you fully enjoyed reading this book, thank you so much for sharing your awesome post.

  9. It is really amazing to read. To write a book, it needs more dedication. Writers use their thoughts to complete a manuscript. It is really tough job to do. Buying their books is only way to encourage them to go forward.