Amber hasn’t seen her mother in two years, she didn’t even get invited to the wedding. Ever since she sobered up, she seems to have had a personality transplant. This summer she hopes to fix everything, by spending six weeks helping out at the California Summer Camp her mother now runs with her new husband. Amber just wants to be loved, is that too much to ask?

Why does it sometimes feel like we’re babysitting the zombie apocalypse?

I liked the summer camp setting which took me back to a nostalgic time when read books about pony camp and dreamed about being sent to America for the summer. Yet this summer camp is hard work, with most of Amber’s time spent trying to look after the kids and desperately trying to get her mum’s attention. She feels Bumface Kevin is always getting in the way.

Amber’s mum is a recovering alcoholic and the book explores what that means to a child who has often had an absent mother. She remembers times when her mother couldn’t take her to school or her dad had to cover for her behaviour. Even now she’s sober, she still have to be selfish to keep herself alive. It’s still hard for both of them, but Amber learns how to be a more accepting person by the end of the book.

Whilst I preferred Am I Normal Yet? on a story and character level, How Hard Can Love Be? does a much better job of including feminist issues without them being an info dump which I found in her previous novel. We learn about raunch culture and the idea of a Female Chauvinist Pig through one of the characters and also how feminism can help men escape gender stereotypes.

Why were kids so cruel? Everyone always moaned about the innocence of children, whereas, from what I remembered on the playground, children were mostly dickheads to each other.

I really liked the fact that the idea of a nice guy being boring is explored. So many novels focus on troublesome relationships, and women do claim to love a bad boy persona. Yet finding someone good, kind and trustworthy, who won’t mess you around is actually a good thing. I probably would have scoffed a bit at the romance when I was younger, but it is good to see a writer showing how relationships don’t have to be all drama.

Whilst this book does contain characters from Am I Normal Yet? it can be read independently. There are a few references to Evie that could be considered spoilers, so if you want to reads both they are best read in order. There’s also plenty of humour in amongst the serious issues; Holly generally writes really likeable charaters.

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Book Source: Purchased