Book Review: How Hard Can Love Be? (Holly Bourne)

Publisher: Usborne

Pages: 480

Release Date: February 1st 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.

Review:

I had to read this straight after reading Am I Normal Yet? as I enjoyed the first book so very much.

This time it’s Amber’s turn to tell her story, and while I did grow to love her more as the book went on, I really missed Evie at first as I grew really attached to her in the previous book.

Amber has a very different set of problems to Evie – she craves love, whether it’s from her alcoholic mother, her dad who is preoccupied with his new wife and evil step-son, or the hot Prom King at the American camp she’s working at this summer.

As the title suggests, love isn’t always straight forward and Amber struggles with it over the summer. Her mother avoids all confrontation and talking about the past and constantly puts other things above Amber. Kyle might be an All American Cliche but he’s also the first boy who’s actually shown Amber any interest, but he also sends confusing messages and she doesn’t know what to think.

I enjoyed the feminism aspect of this book. In the previous book Amber often berated Lottie and Evie for their constant boy talk, but as she falls for one herself she realises what a minefield it can be. It can feel conflicting sometimes, to call yourself a feminist yet have movie style giggly/moaning conversations about boys. The Harry Potter references really made me want to re-read the series again and I loved how it linked in with relationship with her mother. The hopelessness of Amber and Kyle’s relationship also got me hard: I’m not saying it’s impossible to last but a relationship is so hard to maintain when you’re in completely different countries. I could see why Amber guarded herself so much.

The strained relationship with Amber’s mum did come to a fairly nice conclusion but I really disliked her through a lot of the book. I felt more understanding after she opened up about her alcoholism but for most of the book I just wanted to scream “WHY WON’T YOU LOVE HER?!” But as someone who hasn’t ever struggled with addiction like that I can’t even pretend to understand her problems. There was another event at the end of the book which I was a bit concerned about, as Amber’s behaviour got pretty reckless in my eyes (no spoilers!) and I was worried about endorsing that kind of behaviour, but I think it was resolved in a satisfactory way.

I didn’t enjoy this quite as much as Evie’s story but it was still a fantastic book. I know the third book is out shortly and I’m dying to get my hands on Lottie’s story as it sounds incredible <3

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