Review: How Hard Can Love Be? – Holly Bourne

How Hard Can Love Be
How hard can love be? (in capital letters) written in white on a black background. The ‘O’ in ‘love’ is a heart with an arrow through it.

I was so excited about How Hard Can Love Be? because the first book (Am I Normal Yet?) was amazing. It was such a beautiful story about growing up and trying to fit in. Click here for my review of Am I Normal Yet?.

This book follows Amber, one of the minor characters of the first book, who hasn’t seen her mother in years. She’s off to spend the summer with her mother and work at her stepfather’s summer camp.

The Good

I loved the scenes that included the three main girls from the first book. I wish there would have been more of those. Especially of Evie – she is awesome!

The Bad

The story didn’t make sense at all. Especially the ending.

Amber was a very confusing character. I didn’t understand why she fell in love with the love interest so fast (quite insta-love). I also couldn’t understand some of her actions while at the camp. Spoiler (highlight to view): For example, at one point, her mother doesn’t include Slytherin in the 4 Hogwarts’ houses in the camp, instead stating that the fourth house is Dumbledore’s Army. She is totally angry about this, saying that Slytherin is so great. It could have been very interesting to have a minor storyline that talks about how Slytherin isn’t just evil and actually a great house, maybe even ending with Slytherin being accepted as the fourth house. Instead this issue led to a snarky discussion and it was just very boring.

I felt like this story potrayed a very negative type of feminism: white feminism. There was quite a bit of slut-shaming going on. There was an interesting passage where two characters talked about movies and romanticising the abusive actions of good-looking men – however this phenomenon referred to as reverse sexism. It just wasn’t what I was expecting at all.

For the next paragraph, I’m going to add a disclaimer: I’m not Native American. I felt like the Native American character in the book was just a token. Here’s a quote of one of the text passages that I felt was off: “…whooping like Indians (Russ said it was okay to use the word “Indians” where you were whooping like the ones in Peter Pan. He was our lecturer in Native American political correctness),…”

All in all

I’m very disappointed in this book. I bought it right after reading the first book of this series because that one wowed me and I didn’t think the next would be this bad. However, it was. The only parts of the book that saved it from being a one-star read were the passages in which Amber interacted with Evie and Lottie.

For a book that focusses a lot on feminism, it wasn’t intersectional at all.

2 stars

What’s your opinion on How Hard Can Love Be? Have you read this book and_or the previous one? Do you plan to read it?


7 thoughts on “Review: How Hard Can Love Be? – Holly Bourne

  1. oh no 😦
    I liked the first book, despite thinking it was trying too hard to teach us a lesson (I guess for some it’s needed), but I’ll pass on this one I guess 😦


  2. It’s distressing when the first book in a series is so good and then the second is so bad. I have a review I’ve been procrastinating on for ages because the book I read was great but the previous book in the series which I then went back to read was very problematic.
    Based on your quote, I definitely would have found the Native American passages bothersome also. I’m guessing the character was not identified by tribe which according to American Indians in Children’s Literature is much preferred to general terms like Native American or indigenous.


      1. Whoops, meant to link it – AICL run by Debbie Reese but there are other contributors. It’s confusing to navigate but the absolute best site for teachers/librarians to be aware of problematic content and find good books. She’s started doing annual AICL recommends lists now which are so helpful for school libraries. I haven’t reviewed any indigenous books yet but am working on a project now to post later this spring.

        That’s good they are standalones – hopefully the next book is good again!


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