How Hard Can Love Be? (Spinster Club #2)
Author: Holly Bourne
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Publication Date: February 1st 2016
Format: Paperback (480 pages)
Amber, Evie and Lottie: three girls facing down tough issues with the combined powers of friendship, feminism and cheesy snacks. Both hilarious and heart-rending, this is Amber’s story of how painful – and exhilarating – love can be, following on from Evie’s story in Am I Normal Yet?
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.
My Rating: ★★★★★
Holly Bourne does it again! I loved Am I Normal Yet? and had unrealistically high expectations for this second book in my series binge but it did not disappoint in the slightest. I am in love with Holly Bourne’s writing style and humour whilst still writing books that inform and evoke emotion.
How Hard Can Love Be? follows Amber on her American summer adventure. Amber sets off to America with high hopes of reuniting with her mum and experiencing America for herself whilst helping out in the summer camp her mum and step father run. Then begins a summer of new friends, romance, alcohol and big decisions. How will Amber cope?
I have to say that I really loved that this book had such a focus on family dynamics and relationships. We are already clued into there being something amiss with Amber’s mum when reading the first book but we never find anything out as it is Evie’s story. This book doesn’t hold back on Amber’s inner turmoil or the emotions she has kept suppressed for so many years. Amber’s mum is an alcoholic, she abandoned Amber to move to America and they’ve had very little relationship since. This summer is supposed to be Amber’s chance to bond with her mum but it doesn’t take long before we see that things are not going to work out that way. We see the real effect of her mother’s abandonment and alcoholism when Amber finally breaks down and lets out all those years of tears and pent up emotions. I really felt for her and just wanted to wrap her in a big hug. Whilst her relationship with her mother may have its problems, I was so glad to see a YA book talking so frankly about parent/child relationships as more often than not parents are the mythical unicorns of YA.
One of my favourite things about this book was not long after Amber arrives in America and she is getting to know her new camp mates including the gorgeous Kyle and wonderful Whinnie. I loved seeing how Holly Bourne put all those stereotypical Britishisms in the book whilst cleverly comparing the UK and the USA. I thought it was hilarious and I had some real laugh out loud moments. (Because of course, we are all friends with Kate Middleton here!)
Once again Holly Bourne has written realistic characters and I just fell in love with Whinnie and Kyle. I was so happy that Amber found Whinnie who was like her soul sister and an extension to the Spinster Club. She seemed so lovely and I was a sucker for all the Winnie the Pooh references. Kyle is your stereotypical American Adonis but it was refreshing to read about an American God who is and wants to be so much more than his looks. There were some really lovely moments between him and Amber that just made my little heart warm right up.
Also, Harry Potter references. Is there anyone in the UK that wouldn’t want to have gone to summer camp as a youngster? We’ve all seen the movies like Parent Trap and secretly wished we could have had that experience. Well how about a camp where everyone is split into Hogwarts Houses (although not happy about Slytherin erasure, no!). I just loved it and thought it was a clever way to make this book so British whilst being set in America.
If you haven’t already guessed it, I highly recommend that you pick up this series. Holly Bourne is pushing the boundaries of YA by tackling those more hidden topics whilst keeping her novels fun, fresh and informative. I can’t get enough of the Spinster ladies!
Have you read How Hard Can Love be? ?
What did you think? Who is your favourite Spinster?