Genre: UKYA Contemporary
Publisher: Usborne Publishing Ltd.
How Hard Can Love Be? follows Amber who we met in the first book in this series Am I Normal Yet?, and who is one of Evie’s best friends. Amber is off to America for the holidays to work at a summer camp that her estranged mother’s husband owns in order to reconnect with her mum. This story is a whirlwind of romance, friendships, family and self-discovery and I really really enjoyed it.
First of all, I knew before I even read this book that I was going to connect to it personally. Like Amber, I am a very tall girl (6ft to be precise) and last year I also spent my summer working at a camp in the United States. Of course we have a lot of differences but there aren’t too may tall girls in YA (of what I’ve read anyway) and I was excited to read about a character like me!
Part of why I liked this book so much was partially due to how much I connected with Amber. Some of it was little things like her struggle to fit into the economy class seats in airplanes (such a real struggle!) but I also think Holly Bourne captured perfectly the feelings of insecurity and loneliness you can feel as a teenager. Amber meets a lot of new people at Camp, one of them being her new friend Whinnie who I thought was great. I really loved their friendship and was really pleased that female friendship was still a big theme in this book despite Amber being away from the Spinster Club.
One of the people Amber meets on her first night of Camp is Prom King Kyle, who is the typical cliche we all see in teen movies. Smart, sporty, incredibly good-looking with all the pretty girls chasing after him. We do find out as the book goes on that Kyle has some insecurities too and has more depth than we initially think. However, for whatever reason I was left just a bit disappointed by his character. I think I just expected something else from him, some other puzzle piece to be revealed that never came and he sometimes did feel a bit too perfect for my own personal liking. That being said I do still prefer him to a LOT of YA male love interests so he gets points for that.
I really loved the way this book explored Amber and her mum’s relationship and the tension between them. It was realistic and well done and I found their scenes some of the most interesting in the whole book. Feminism is still a strong theme in this book, particularly talking about balancing your feminist beliefs with your feelings and what you want which I think is a really important thing to discuss and I thought Holly did it brilliantly. I also really loved the message that came out of this book and really wish I had had a book like this when I was 16.
Overall, I really did enjoy this book. Like Am I Normal Yet? I did have a couple of small complaints but nothing that is huge and most of which is just down to personal preference. This book made me incredibly nostalgic for my time in America (I want to go back so bad!) but I think you don’t have to have had similar experiences to Amber in order to connect with this book. Another funny and honest YA Contemporary from Holly Bourne that I really enjoyed. I can’t wait for the third one!