How Hard Can Love Be? by Holly Bourne

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How Hard Can Love Be? This is a question I often ask and I often answer. Love is hard, and always almost something will doom your relationship to fail. (Not that I have first hand experience. This is all based on my friends’, cousins’ everyone else’s stories). It is rare to find that true and lasting love in this day and age. This is why I was able to relate to Amber, the main character of the book.

How Hard Can Love Be is the second book in the The Normal series of Holly Bourne. It focuses on Amber, the tall, ginger, and insecure 17-yr old girl who crossed the ocean and traveled to America to spend the summer with her mom while agreeing to be one of the counselors in her stepfather’s summer camp. She anticipated that it will be a good summer, if not the best, since she will be spending six whole weeks with her mother whom she haven’t seen for two whole years. But life happens, their relationship grew worse. Kyle, one of the camp councilors and the All-American Golden boy, who as Amber described is the epitome of American guys she know of – Prom King, star athlete, scholar, oozes sex appeal is one of the only two good things she was glad about the camp. The other one being Whinnie, one of the girl camp counselors who she was able to be friends with. She tried to resist her attraction to Kyle at first. She’s insecure so she doesn’t believe that a gorgeous boy like Kyle will be interested in her, even if there are all those mixed signals (much like what i will feel if ever somebody tells me they like me). With the advice of Evie and Lottie though, she let go of her insecurity and worries for the future. She followed her heart and lived in the moment. (Isn’t it nice to just live in the moment, never caring about the consequences of your action and what the future brings?) And their whirlwind romance started only to be stopped by her mother. Her mother went hysterical when she discovered that she and Kyle are together. Kyle was fired from the camp and they decided to runaway. Her mother caught up with them in Vegas where they were able to come to peace. And she and Kyle then continued their journey.

How Hard can Love Be revolves around identity, finding yourself, being comfortable in who you are, and, of course, relationships.

I loved this book more than Am I Normal. One is because I have felt the connection to Amber. Two, because I also have never fallen in love yet (Yes, in my twenty-something existence, I still have yet to experience first love). Three, because it makes me feel that I will be able to find love still. Maybe not now, not in my country, but surely I will.

I can relate to Amber but I have mixed feeling on her character description and actions. Yes, she’s describe as insecure with her physical appearance thus is socially inept. But her character’s actions show otherwise. She’s not afraid to be herself. I actually don’t see her insecurities affect her social relationship much because she was able to make friends easily. She was able to take courage and take the first step in talking to the other camp counselors the first night she arrived. The only time that her insecurity really shows is when she is in denial about Kyle’s possible attraction to her (which she also overcome). 

Kyle’s character on the other hand, is sort of like a doll. A person without his own will. It shows that, sometimes, we do the things we do just because they are expected of us and because we don’t know what else are we supposed to do. Identity. This is one of Kyle’s character representations. We struggle to find who we are, what we are supposed to do, while in the time we don’t know who we are yet, we act so stereotypically and do things which might seem nothing at the moment but might have a greater effect in our lives later on. In Kyle’s case, he kissed Megan, the kinda slutty girl camp counselor. He did it because it was like it was expected of him to kiss a sexy babe. However, this one kiss, later on, is one of the major obstacle in Kyle getting together with Amber. Good thing, it was overcome in the end.

Amber’s mother also serves a major role in the story. She is an a recovering alcoholic. But as any other addiction, it is a long, windy journey. This is the greatest reason for her wrecked relationnship with Amber, the summer Amber thought would be the greatest. They reconciled but it already left a mark in Amber’s heart. This is also one of the greatest contributors to Amber’s insecurity to love.

Everything is going good, then suddenly I was met with the ending. I was literally trying to flip still the pages trying to see if there’s any hidden chapter, epilogue, or just something that will satisfy me. I found none. And I was heartbroken. This has also been my problem with Am I Normal. I am like That’s it? Really? Oh well, I just have to deal with it since I can’t do anything else.

How hard can love be? The answer? Love is definitely hard especially if you do not know who you are or if you’re not comfortable in your own skin. There will be a lot of hardships coz life is such a freaking *****. But, as long as you have true friends to count on, a partner to rely on, and you are not afraid to be yourself, love can be manageable.

 

Am I Normal Yet by Holly Bourne

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I’ll go ahead and now start what i really intended to be one of the main staples of this blog – book reviews!!! Yey!

Let’s start with Am I Normal Yet by Holly Bourne for no apparent reason aside from it being the book that i just finished reading literally a few minutes ago.

The book has been on my radar for quite some time now but it’s not until yesterday that i’ve given myself the chance to read it. And I’m glad i did. It’s definitely different from the usual YA romance novels that i’m reading since most of them are just cutesy types or heavy dramas but romance is still the main point. Am I Normal Yet presented in the summary at Goodreads reeled me in because it gives the impression that romance still plays the biggest part of the story but the book uncovers a different world, tackling mainly mental health issues, OCD, and feminism and romance was a just a thing caught in the bigger story. Nonetheless, i’m still grateful i had the chance to read it.

Evelyn Crane, Evie, has OCD but all she wants to be is “normal.”But what is “normal?” For Evie, the last thing she needs to check off her checklist is to be in a relationship and everything will go well again. Everything will be back to once they were. Everything will be normal.

More than the boys Evie got tangled with, the book emphasizes more on the inner struggle of Evie coping to be normal again, the OCD manifestations, relapses, friendship, acceptance. The book was not able to delve much into the main characters’ background and premise such as why the boys in the story are such douchebags, except for Oli. But then we also weren’t given a background as to why Oli Oli or even Evie Evie. Why Jane, Lottie, or Amber do things they do.

If there’s anything that the book left me, it is the impression that we cannot define normalcy. Who are we to judge what is normal? We are all broken in one way or another. We have different ways we cope with it. Who are we to judge others?

Tears literally streamed down my cheeks towards the ending of the book. Imagine yourself reading the book at the wee hours of the morning, in your room (i wanna say alone but nope, i have a roommate sleeping in the lower bunk), lights off, feeling all the emotions of the story, plus listening to Logic’s 1-800-273-8255. Who wouldn’t tear up in that situation?

Am i Normal Yet is not your typical YA romance novel, i don’t even want to consider it a romance novel since the focus is not there but it’s a good read. Perfect if you’re contemplating about life and wanting to add more feels to your already existing feels.

Are you normal? Coz i know i’m definitely not. Cheers!

P.S. Here is Logic’s 1-800 song link. Watch it. Maybe it will create a difference to those suffering.

LOGIC 1-800