ARC Review: How Hard Can Love Be? (Normal #2) by Holly Bourne10:00
Series: Normal #2
Author: Holly Bourne
Published February 1st 2016 by Usborne Publishing Ltd
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.
See my review of book 1, Am I Normal Yet?, here.
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher. This in no way impacted on my view.
After reading Am I Normal Yet?, I was so happy to have a copy of book 2 to read asap. Unfortunately life and exams got in my way, and I couldn't read as much as I wanted to. It was a nice way to reward myself once I got some of my exam results back (2:1's! Get in!!) and I'm simply in awe of Bourne's books.
In How Hard Can Love Be?, we follow Amber's story this time, as she jets off to California to spend the summer with her mam, whom she hasn't seen in over two years. All she wants is to reconnect with her mam, and get some sort of an apology for being abandoned to live with her dad, and evil step-mother and -brother. Instead, her mam has organised for her to spend her summer as a camp counselor in the camp she and her new partner own, and basically spends as much time as she can apart. As Amber struggles to come to terms with her mam avoiding her, she gets close to fellow counselor, Kyle, who embodies all the old American cliches, and he was Prom King to boot. Amber never thought a lad would ever fancy her, but she finds herself falling hard, even though she'll be flying back to England in a few short weeks, and will never see him again.
I really liked Amber, but not on the same scale as I had loved Evie. She was a bit more brash, but that made it all the more realistic. The book was dark at times, and dealt with the real issue of having an alcoholic parent who isn't there for you. We got to see flashbacks to what Amber's life had been like when her mam was living with them, and how much the alcoholism effected the whole family. No matter how well Amber had coped over the years, she still felt the loss of her mam fiercely, and just wanted a relationship with her - is that so much to ask for?
The answer is, simply, yes. I'm probably going to annoy someone here, but I hated Amber's mam. I understand how hard alcoholism can be, for the person suffering, and their loved ones, but I felt like Amber's mam always had an excuse, or would blame someone else. The main reason she didn't want to see Amber for so long was because it could push her over the edge, and she treated Amber like crap when she was in California. She knew how much Amber hated her step-family, but she was content to let her suffer as long as it didn't effect her. Not the best example of parenting. The only time I really liked her was at the very end, and even then it wasn't much.
I adore the whole feminist aspect in this series. It's completely retaking the word, and the word 'spinster' for that, and that's what this generation of teenagers need. Feminism is such a 'dirty' word, which is ridiculous when it means 'equality'. I can't recommend these books enough for today's teenagers, with the hope that, someday, being a feminist will not be something so controversial.
I enjoyed the romance aspect, and did like Kyle. I felt like he and Amber clicked well, and suited each other. She needed someone who wouldn't push her, and understood her insecurities, and her beliefs - like the feminism. Their whole relationship, from the very beginning, made me swoon, and I only wish the book hadn't ended so abruptly. Maybe we'll hear more about them in Lottie's book, out in August.
Speaking of Lottie's book, I'm dying to get my hands on that. I feel like she is my favourite of the Spinsters, even though I haven't read her PoV yet. Out of them all, Amber has been my least favourite so far, but I still adored her. Bourne just can't help writing amazing characters!
All in all, How Hard Can Love Be? was a wonderful companion/sequel to Am I Normal Yet? If you enjoyed that one, I think you'd like this, maybe even more than I did. Even so,
this is a series I think should be read by everyone, and should even be on school curriculum's, in order to try and get rid of the prejudice against feminism and all it entails. Holly Bourne is quickly becoming a new favourite of mine, and I think you'll feel the same.