Saturday, January 30, 2016

Review: How Hard Can Love Be? by Holly Bourne

How Hard Can Love Be?
by Holly Bourne

Summary:
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.


(cover image and summary lifted from Goodreads)


Series: The Normal Series 2
Publisher: Usborne Publishing Ltd.
Publication date:  February 1, 2016
Source/Format: Finished paperback from the publisher.
Pre-order links: Amazon | iBooks | The Book Depository | Kobo

My Thoughts:
We first met Amber in Am I Normal Yet? (AINY) as Evie’s all judgy, eye-rolling friend when it comes to topics about boys. She instantly became my favorite Spinster Club girl then because I can relate to her aversion to girly discussions about boys, so when I heard the news that the next book in the Normal series will focus on her, my exhilaration is in shrill tell-me-more mode. 


At the beginning of How Hard Can Love Be? (HHCLB), Amber is set to spend her summer vacation in America to meet her estranged mother. Amber is reaIly looking forward to catching up and bonding with her, but mom has other plans. Plans like cancelling out on their scheduled trips at the last minute. It didn’t help that the bumchin man who took her mom away abroad (a.k.a. mom’s new husband) is always hovering and keeping away their alone time together. Alas Amber has no choice but to keep herself busy with chores in the summer camp (owned by the bumchin man) and mingle with other camp staff that includes the extremely attractive Prom King Kyle. Should Amber allow herself to get distracted by her budding feelings for Kyle? Is summer love worth chasing after when she knows for sure that it will eventually end, hurt and make her unhappy?


Love in this book deals with both Amber’s jarred relationship with her mom and her possible relationship with Kyle. It's basically past experience with (or rather without) motherly love versus future prospects for romantic love and in the middle of it all is Amber’s heart plagued with pessimism. We now understand why she is all snark and snide with boy topics before. It’s her defense mechanism to protect herself from the perceived hurt love will cause her. Okay, I so get this situation and I know a lot of other girls can relate to this, too.

It’s a good thing that Amber made a new friend who taught her the taoisms of Winnie the Pooh. And of course, her Spinster Club friends are there to the rescue via Skype video calls or emails or texts. It’s always a treat and a total riot when the trio are talking to each other. Big bonus are their feminist discussions. One of the topics brought up that I learned a lot from is on how to deal with a raunchy girl who also happens to be your rival for the attention of the boy you fancy. ‘Coz feminism is not about hating on other girls but on fighting for equality alongside fellow girls.

So filled with strong feelings for a boy and support from her friends, it’s all up to Amber now if she will pursue or not this whirlwind summer lovin'. I have to say that it’s quirkily cheeky of Holly Bourne to write a love story for the anti-romantic Amber. The result is not your typical castle-building-in-the-air swoon but more of the thrill of seeing two people forge a connection bit by bit in comfortable silences and conversations of getting to know each other. Hint on their convo: Kyle learns from Amber that feminism is for men, too. The whole timeline of Amber’s vacation is only a matter of few weeks but it’s gladly not insta-love.


At it’s core, HHCLB leaves us some lessons on living and loving. Life is hard, love is hard but enjoy the ride ‘coz it’s always worth it. At the sides, it shows us that an awkwardly tall, plain-faced girl with stringy ginger hair can be a strong lead character of a YA romance book. Read How Hard Can Love Be? and let Amber inspire you to take a chance on love.

P.S.:
Beware, patriarchy is everywhere. Even in the seemingly harmless song and dance film, Grease, where I lifted some of this post's GIFs. Girls, don't go changing your cardigans to skintight clothing just to impress the boy you like.

My Rating:


2 comments:

  1. Looks like a fun series to read. Great review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I had lots of laughs while reading though it's so so much more than fun. Hope you get to pick up and read the series, too.

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