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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

How hard can love be?

Time for a very realistic read! Lately, I read a lot of paranormal things such as wolves and people who can make a world collapse by their tears and so on. I was also in a little reading slump and decided to open up a new book that could get me out of it: How Hard Can Love Be? By Holly Bourne was the book that got me out of the slump and also made me crave to the summer holidays again! 

Amber will finally see her mother after two years of radio silence. She's a bit scared of what she'll come across because she knows how her mother is. Tired of not talking or seeing her, Amber wants to create that mother-daughter bond again but this acquires flying to America. Once there, she needs to help out at the summer camp that's being run by her stepfather and mom. What Amber didn't count on was her mother not being that cooperative when it comes to creating a bond. In fact, her mother totally shuts down and Amber can't do anything but open up to another person she never expected to find here.

This book really is one of those more realistic ones and also one that I really, absolutely enjoyed! But before I go into that a little more, we'll dig in with the characters. First off is Amber. The first impression I had from her was that she had a difficult life. Her father has a new family and her mother has a new family but neither of those make her truly happy. Her stepmom is awful because she manipulates her dad so he's always on her side, and her stepdad took away her mother across the ocean. For short, she's not living the idealistic life we all would want. 

Another thing that you might come across is the fact that she's very bitter and angry all the time, but later in the book she'll explain to the readers and herself why it is that she always seems to bite towards people. Although Amber is a very bitter person at times, you can see how insecure she actually is. She blames herself a lot for her mothers departure. Although she will tell you many times how much she hates Kevin, her stepfather, for taking away her mom, she will give little hints where you can guess she's actually blaming herself and questioning herself. She's also determined that no one will ever love her, this insecurity will be taken care of in the book. This side of her really makes you warm up to her and makes you willing to understand her. 

Yet that's not all to Amber! She's also a feminist. This book will take a closer look to this side where many of us might be interested in these days. Feminism will play a role in it and it will shine through in this character. More about the feminism side of this book will come later. I just really adored this side of Amber because it showed the reader how passionate she really is about this. She's also a very passionate and creative person because of her art skills, which don't surface in the book as much as I wanted it to. That aside, I really enjoyed this character, she'll make sure you know you can't fool her but all the while she's very insecure and hides her feelings for others while being open about her passion for feminism and art. 

A few more characters I'd like to discuss are Lottie and Evie, this book is from a series of three and the other two books are each about one of these characters. Lottie and Evie are Amber's best friends and are also part of the Spinster Club. The Spinster Club is their way of being able to express how they feel about what's happening with women, and so again the topic feminism will be led into the book. What I adored a lot is that you really get to know Lottie and Evie throughout the book. I've read books where the best friends of a character won't resurface the plotline once the main character is on its way to adventure. How Hard Can Love Be? will make sure these best friends come back frequently and that way you really get to know them.

Each of them is really unique. Lottie is someone that loves big words and is a real blabber mouth (if that's the English word?). In other words, she says what she thinks and this can cause her to get very excited which does make you smile a lot. Evie, on the other hand, is very calm and really thinks things through, there's also something going on with Evie but this book doesn't get into much detail. If you'd want to know more about these characters, I recommend reading the other books in the Spinster Club-series

What I adore so much about them was that they were always there for Amber. They are in England and she's in America yet if Amber was in trouble and needed girly advice, they'd wake up immediately and help her out. They were always ready to give advice and worry when needed, I really appreciated that in these characters. They'll also provide a lot of entertainment that makes the reader laugh and truly enjoy it.

A few people from the Camp Amber's working at that I'd like to discuss are: Kyle, Whinnie and Calvin. First of Kyle, Kyle's a nice guy. And believe me when I say you'll read that sentence a lot in this book, but it's the truth. He's always there to help out, he tries to help Amber out when she steps foot on American ground and he's always nice. I really loved this character because of how nice and understanding he really was but throughout the book, yet also his mask will fall off. Kyle might be nice and handsome (from all the descriptions we got) but he does doubt himself a lot. I adored to see this side even more, he was a nice guy all the time and then it's really nice to see him open up to the other characters and say how he feels! He'll also worry a lot about the situation between Amber and her mother which will make sure that Amber opens up to him which she never expected to happen but it did...

Whinnie on the other hand is a character that made me laugh a lot. She's easy going and very sweet and she'll give you wise advice because of Whinnie the Pooh. Believe me, it'll all get clear when you read it and it might sound ridiculous now but actually, while you read it: it's not. The things she said really made sense and it felt as if I was getting a secret message from the author, or well Whinnie the Pooh. Whinnie is one of my favorite characters because she was so easy going. Other characters didn't need to pretend with her, they could be just them and she'd gladly accept that. She's also a very supportive character which I enjoyed even more. 

Lastly, Calvin. I'm keeping it short with this character but I found that he deserved a special spot in this review too. Calvin is one of the kids at camp but he's a sturdy kid and gets laughed at and excluded from groups. We might not see a lot of him in this book but I did see him grow! Amber really took care of him, even if she risked him getting in love with her but it also made Calvin become a lot more open which I loved to see. He shows everyone not to hide when people laugh at you or exclude you, life goes on and so do you. I loved this little fellow!

Now the plot! The biggest question you'll get in the beginning of the book is "what's going on with her mother?". Amber is all being secretive about what has happened that made her mother run away but it doesn't take long before the author presents us flashbacks. Yet these flashbacks only make you create scenarios that might be possible but not make you any wiser, for now. How Hard Can Love Be? will really take you onto a trip to memory lane and let you discover together with Amber how and when things went wrong and who's fault this actually is, if it's anyone's. 

This also means the plot will concentrate a lot of Amber's repressed feelings towards her mother and her questions to why she never called or came to visit. I enjoyed this in the plot because this gave you a purpose with the character: find out how to deal. The character has many thoughts to share with you which I was a great fan of. The whole story with her mother will also show certain developments in Amber and we'll see her change as will her mother. 

Yet her mother will not give answers easily and you will get frustrated with her. This creates a lot of feels but also a lot of tension you desperately want to get away from which you will. The moment her mother excludes Amber more than she already has, Amber will find new horizons that will open up to her and will make her become happy again: her camp mates. 

The plot really describes the camp and its activities very well. It's not just a scenery so you can visualize it, it'll play a role and that's what I really loved. The camp gave it a very new and refreshing touch while it was dealing with family drama. You'll get to know some kids, you'll get to know their routine and their activities and of course their staff. The staff will open up to Amber and although she's very hesitant about it in the beginning she'll adapt fully.

It's also them and especially the Nice Guy that'll look after her when she's having a breakdown because of her mother. This then causes that she's going to see a lot more of America than originally planned and this makes sure we often get a little pause from the camp scenery which is always a pro to the plot in my opinion. 

What I was also very keen on in this book were the alternations between "Amber in America" and "Amber in England". The book has to cover a difference in language and a difference in culture which it'll do amazingly. You'll learn differences in words and those situations will create funny moments where you can really laugh and enjoy it. What I also mean with these alternations is that we see her friends she met in America but we'll also see her friends from England, which as already said, I absolutely craved for. 

Lastly, a little bit more on the feminism topic. The girls, Amber, Lottie and Evie, are very passionate about it and are real feminists. I really loved it that the plot made time for their Spinster Club meetings because it also dips you under in that topic aside from differences in culture and family drama. You'll get a clearer view on the topic and will be part of discussion through Amber's eyes. I really loved it that the author took time to really incorporate it in the book instead of making it a little detail of the main character and move on from it. 

For short, the plot will alternate between many things in the book. It'll try to solve the family drama and try to explain how to deal with things like this, It'll give you time apart from that and give you a brewing love story with many doubts and will give you a good dose of feminism which is a very nice addition to it. You'll begin with questions and get them answered but you'll also create feels and fall head over heels. 

Before I jump to my conclusion, I'd also like to point out the "Situations that are destined to fail.", before each chapter there's a sheet with this on top and a few key words that introduce the following chapter. I was really keen on it because it was a nice touch-up and made you want to read on because it was so secretive! It also links to the character's insecurities and her finding her way to become more confident so it'll lead to "Situations that won't fail if you don't let them." 

As a total, we can conclude that this book contains absolutely amazing characters that'll each come to struggle with their insecurities and find a way to overcome those. They're also very passionate which makes sure the book gets an extra boost and the plot won't make it boring at all. How Hard Can Love Be? is a book that really makes you crave the summer and a camp full of friends. I totally recommend it!  

"Failure is never getting hurt. Because that means you've not done anything you cared about."

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