Title: How Hard Can Love Be?
Author: Holly Bourne
Series: Normal #2
Amber, Evie and Lottie: three girls facing down tough issues with the combined powers of friendship, feminism and cheesy snacks. Both hilarious and heart-rending, this is Amber’s story of how painful – and exhilarating – love can be, following on from Evie’s story in Am I Normal Yet?
All Amber wants is a little bit of love. Her mum has never been the caring type, even before she moved to California, got remarried and had a personality transplant. But Amber’s hoping that spending the summer with her can change all that.
And then there’s prom king Kyle, the guy all the girls want. Can he really be interested in anti-cheerleader Amber? Even with best friends Evie and Lottie’s advice, there’s no escaping the fact: love is hard.
Upon reading the first book in the series, Am I Normal Yet? and absolutely LOVING it, I knew I had to pick this one up.
Holly Bourne has this honest way of writing and contextualizing her characters that you can’t help but relate to their situations and feelings. Especially as a teenage girl going through the ups and downs of hormones and society, I find that Holly absolutely nails the feelings associated with boy problems and the pressure that young women feeling in terms of body image and being admired by men.
While the first novel focused more on the individual and how your mind can destroy you, this one focuses more on how your environment and the way you deal with problems can equally destroy you. There are the darker aspects of alcoholism tackled in the novel, family troubles and abuse but also issues dealing with self-confidence. One of the messages the novel leaves you with is that it is never a good idea to bottle up your emotions, Amber’s natural reflex to push people away almost destroys her in the end.
Of course there are the lighthearted bits of camping and bonfires and road trips (I’m totally up for an American road trip!). A classic Holly Bourne novel also contains feminism and educational chapters on Female Chauvinist Pigs. Aaaand we can’t miss the cheesy snacks can we?
How Hard Can Love Be? in addition to looking at friendship and travel and romance also tackles alcoholism and abusive relationships, moving between one end of the spectrum and another from the perspective of a teenage protagonist it makes for the perfect contemporary read.