- Series: Normal
- Format/Pages: Paperback, 480 pages
- Publisher: Usborne Publishing
- Publication Date: 1st February, 2016
- Genre: Young Adult, Romance
“So I’m spending the Summer in CALIFORNIA, with the mum who upped and ABANDONED me – and I think I’m falling for a guy guaranteed to BREAK MY HEART. This is a SITUATION DESTINED TO FAIL.”
All Amber wants is a little but of love. Her mum has never been the caring type, even before she moved to America. But Amber’s hoping that spending the summer with her can change all that.
And then there’s Prom King Kyle, the serial heartbreaker. Can Amber really be falling for him? Even with best friends Evie and Lottie’s advice, there’s no escaping the fact: love is hard.
The moment that I learned the next book of the Normal series was going to be about Amber, I couldn’t contain myself – because out of all the three girls I found her the most interesting. I say that because she puts up a brave front, when it is clear that she is quite vulnerable – I like how strong minded she is and I just simply wanted to know her story.
When you look at the title and cover of the book, you will instantly assume that this is going to be the clichéd teenage romance, and I have to tell you that it pretty much is. HOWEVER, it is not simply talking about how hard romantic relationships can be, but also about the love of a parent and child – and how this, too, can be complicated – as seen with Amber and her Mum’s relationship goes in the book.
Much like its predecessor, Am I Normal Yet?, How Hard Can Love Be? has been a definite page turner for me. As I previously said, Amber has always been one of the more interesting minor characters of the previous book with her being the one to encourage the formation of the Spinster Club, headstrong and simply a very strong character overall. Of course, we see her in a completely different light in HHCLB, she’s vulnerable and it’s kind of nice to see her falling in love, but also coming to terms with her relationship with her estranged mother.
I also loved how she was the one who broke the Bechdel Test when it came to the Spinster Club meeting, the fact that this is Amber we are talking about I found myself squealing with delight at the prospect that she will finally find a guy who will like her for who she really is, and not because of her appearance! I think that this is a nice message to put out there – even though we are encouraging young girls to have a positive image of themselves, it is still unavoidable what with social and mass media still setting standards of what body type is the ‘ideal’ body type.
In addition to, I’ve learned quite a few bits and bob from reading the novel, especially with Lottie’s lectures about feminism and the likes. Not only that, but I really like Holly Bourne’s writing style. It’s engaging and as I said before, quite educational. The way she writes, I found myself in the shoes of Amber – and there’s also humour in the way she writes. I have to admit that although I found some of the materials quite clichéd, Holly managed to make it her own and shape it into her own story (or Amber’s story), like how the female protagonist ends up with the Prom King (quite literally in this sense) and he likes her for the way she is, and appearance does not matter, etc. etc. But it was cute, and I loved every bit of Amber and Kyle’s time together.
The extra material as well that has been included in the first edition of the novel, Kyle’s love letter to Amber, made me squeal like a pig with delight! Where can I find a guy like him?!
I do have to admit that the reconciliation process between Amber and her mother was a bit rushed towards the end, it felt kind of forced – the way how her mother finally spoke to Amber about why she left and her explanation of why things were the way they are. But taking into consideration what was happening, it kind of makes sense, but I wish we dwelled on their relationship a bit more.
Overall, I think that this was an excellent novel and I highly recommend it!
Oh! I almost forgot to tell say – I think that this novel is great on its own. You don’t really have to have read Am I Normal Yet? to read this novel, as it is a completely different story, but it will be useful for some details that are mentioned in HHCLB?
Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐