Since his parents' divorce, John's mother hasn't touched him, her new fiancé wants them to move away, and his father would rather be anywhere than at Friday night dinner with his son It's no wonder John writes articles like Interview with the Stepfather and Memoirs from Hell The only release he finds is in homemade zines like the amazing Escape Velocity by Marisol, a selfproclaimed Puerto Rican Cuban Yankee Lesbian Haning around the Boston Tower Records for the new issue of Escape Velocity, John meets Marisol and a hard love is bornWhile at first their friendship is based on zines, dysfunctional families, and dreams of escape, soon both John and Marisol begin to shed their protective shells Unfortunately, John mistakes this growing intimacy for love, and a disastrous date to his junior prom leaves that friendship in ruins Desperately hoping to fix things, John convinces Marisol to come with him to a zine conference on Cape Cod On the sandy beaches by the Bluefish Wharf Inn, John realizes just how hard love can beWith keen insight into teenage life, Ellen Wittlinger delivers a story of adolescence that is fierce and funny — and ultimately transforming — even as it explores the pain of growing up

10 thoughts on “Hard Love

  1. karen karen says:

    so - more damaged kids attracting each other like magnets, filling in the places left by distant, absent, or overinvolved adults. a strange choice for LGBTQPR3Z week. sure, it is about a friendless boy whose home life is emotionally barren and a firecracker of a lesbian, but it isn't really about sexuality - that part is used more as window dressing than spotlit, and only serves as an obstacle to keep the characters from kissing. she's cool, he's not, and yet they form a relationship based on zines and teen angst until john/gio douches out and the ending happens.

    i don't really understand what marisol gets out of the relationship - why she keeps coming back. he is clearly not as smart, talented, or interesting as she is, which is why he is forced to lie so frequently. what does some independent lesbian want out of a relationship with an emotionally underdeveloped boy, especially once it becomes clear he has a crush on her and asks her to the prom for goodness' sake?? teen girls do not typically have this kind of patience with starry-eyed stalker losers, especially if even a drunken pity-hookup is so far out of the question.

    it is such a glaringly one-sided relationship. the only compelling thing about him is his passivity in allowing his parents to treat him so shittily and his lack of interest in being present in his own life. perhaps he is fascinating to marisol the way an overturned beetle is fascinating to a young child: the struggle and the persistence of nature etc. etc.

    dunno - the real question is will i ever get caught up on all my silly little book reviews, or will there forever be these sad blank spots effing up my bookpages...? i am totally in class right now, by the way.


  2. Elizabeth Elizabeth says:

    I am immune to emotion. I have been ever since I can remember. Which is helpful when people appeal to my sympathy. I don't seem to have any.

    Oh my GODDDDD, a young adult book about someone SO TERRIBLY DAMAGED that they are IMMUNE TO EMOTION. How new and exciting. NOT. This is teen angst at its worst. Especially since the main character, John, is totally not immune to emotion. He spends the entire book whining about how hurt he is by his parents who got divorced when John was ten and then became too wrapped up in their own adult angst to remember that they had a son.

    John is just so dull. He has no friends, no interests, no life. He basically just exists. There's even this ridiculous moment where he considers the fact that he could be gay BUT IS NOT INTERESTED ENOUGH IN HIMSELF TO FIND OUT. He does have one hobby, which is writing his whiny thoughts down in a zine. Hello 90s. Through writing zines he meets an equally annoying character called Marisol, the self proclaimed Puerto Rican Cuban Yankee Lesbian.

    So John and Marisol set off on this weird platonic journey. They go to prom. Then John tries to kiss Marisol and she freaks out. Then they go to a conference full of lesbians and Marisol is in her element and John keeps pathetically throwing the word love around even though it's clearly just a crush. Their relationship is waaaaay too underdeveloped for it to be possible for him to be in love with her. Then there's other plot points like his terrible relationship with his parents. And it's all just very, very dull.

  3. Jasmine Jasmine says:

    Karen is waiting patiently for this review, or sort of patiently, or waiting because she has no choice. I guess the biggest thing here is a finished this a bit ago so this won't be the best review ever, percolating makes me fuzzy not more thoughtful like other people.

    Reading this book I was like THIS BOOK IS THE STRANGER. it's like what would happen if camus wanted the stranger to have a happy ending, or you know the stranger has a happy ending but I mean a like traditional happy ending. or not a traditional happy ending but a moment of meaning I guess maybe not so much at the end though.

    Karen doesn't understand why marisol likes john, that's because karen is all about the cool factor I mean look at her best friend he simply oozes cool. For serious, the fact is John is cool, yeah he's a poser, but honestly so is she, she is like a super poser, I actually am the anti karen and I thought she was pretty pathetic, I mean she wants so bad to be alternative, but it's like one of those I'm alternative cause I know you wouldn't accept me anyway so I'm just rejecting you first kinds of alternative, whereas john presents with a clear background of I've been rejected so I've become a nihilist. Why are these two characters important? because they came to the same conclusion for completely different reasons. Why are the characters attracted to each other? because even if you've made yourself completely alone you still wish that someone could understand you.

    marisol likes john because john is someone who has the reasons to feel the way she feels whereas she may not actually have the right to feel that way after all her life is perfect isn't it?

    this is really a book about identity, it's about how we know who we are and how we know who we can be.

  4. Mav Mav says:

    Do you remember your first love/crush? Do you remember wanting to tell him/her but squirm at the thought of doing so? Do you remember thinking it was hopeless and futile?

    Then this is the book for you. Meet John Galardi, a loner and a teenager with divorced parents, trying to express himself through his zine, Bananafish. His inspiration, Marisol Guzman, creator of the zine Escape Velocity and a self proclaimed rich spoiled lesbian private-school gifted-and-talented writer virgin.

    The two would meet through their interest in zines, and an instant friendship strikes between the outspoken lesbian and the loner still naive to matters of love. He knows she's gay, but as their friendship grows, he finds himself falling in love with her, something neither can deal with.


    This is one of my favorite books, just for the fact that Whittleinger is a wonderful storyteller. Don't expect Marisol to suddenly change her mind about her sexuality, don't expect sweet words and kisses in the night, don't expect physically perfect heroes and heroines who argue their way into love. What makes this story so powerful is how human all the characters are.

  5. Sara Sara says:

    Holden Caulfield-esque loner John finds friendship in a lesbian girl, Marisol, whose zine he admires. I found myself interested for the first part of the book, or until the protagonist experiences unrequited love for said friend. While this serves as the turning point in the book, as well as the catalyst for John's growth and development as a character, it seems a bit tried-and-true...even a bit cliche? While I'm sure it makes for good teen angst, I found myself wondering if the book wouldn't have been more interesting and less predictable if the protagonist's change had been achieved through platonic love...or if John's non-platonic feelings for Marisol had been more nuanced. There were a few plot points--particularly the protagonist's relationships with his divorced parents--which seemed underdeveloped. But maybe I'm requesting too much of a Young Adult novel? Although, honestly, the bit with the song lyrics at the end made me cringe.

  6. Xueting Xueting says:

    Re-read of one of my favourite books as a pre-teen, and it's still so good. All I remember from it was Marisol's zine title, Escape Velocity, and that I loved it. Now I think I better appreciate the adolescent issues and I love how the author tries out so many different voices and they all feel so real to me, offering honest perspectives without contradicting or trying to contest one another. Amazing writing too.

  7. Hannah Carrillo Hannah Carrillo says:

    Ugg this book was a drag. Very emo and not in a good way. It's one of those. Let's feel sorry about ourselves because daddy doesn't love me and the only girl I've ever loved is a Lesbian and I have no friends. Complete drain and bore!

  8. Alyssah Hanna Alyssah Hanna says:

    The BEST book I've read so far. I have to say, Miss Wittlinger, you've ruined all books for me.

    Before this, I have only limited myself to reading chicklit -- and that's not necessarily a bad thing, but I wanted more. Something that goes beyond heroine gets the hero, or something like that. In this book, I've definitely ventured out of my own comfort zone. And I loved it! The witticisms of John, the design of the book -- it was a tad bit expensive, but damn! IT WAS HELL WORTH IT! I kept squealing for Marisol and John to get together, which is how most romantic books are supposed to go, right? Thankfully, it didn't end that way. It reminded me of the harsh reality of things. I certainly love the concept, and I love the voice. It's just so cut-throat and brutally honest, and also satirical and sarcastic. It makes up for a good read.

    After reading this, I get bored with all the young adult/chicklit novels out there. I wanted to find a book matching John's voice. The sarcasm, and the way his character works. Sadly, I haven't found too much of that lying around, which is a shame really.

    Anyways, this is going to be my favorite book of all time. I could read it over and over, and I cannot get bored.

  9. Kricket Kricket says:

    For the first 3/4 of this book, I didn't like it at all. Something (homework avoidance?) kept me plodding along until the ending, which I liked a lot better than the rest.

    John Galardi, high school junior and zine writer, comes from a broken Boston-area home. During the week he lives with his depressed mother, who refuses to touch him, and on weekends he visits his cold selfish father and distributes copies of his zine at the nearby Tower Records. (yeah, the concept of a print zine is kind of dated- if the book were written today it'd probably be a blog). It is in this Tower Records that he meets the brilliant and beautiful Marisol, a fellow zine writer whose work he admires. She writes honestly about her experiences as a Puerto Rican adoptee and a lesbian. They become friends in a wobbly sort of way, exploring writing, music, and becoming honest with each other.

    John's parents seemed like parodies of parents and a lot of the gay characters in the book were written like parodies of gay characters. But I still want to read Wittlinger's new book, Parrotfish.

  10. Zuzia Zuzia says:

    Hard Love is a beautiful, heartbreaking, thought-provoking love story between two teenagers. The biggest catch though, is that one of them is gay. John knows Marisol is gay because of the zines (self-produced magazines) she writes. Her zines are full of wit, sarcasm, and brutal honestly. John waits for Marisol at a local comic book shop, hoping to meet his favorite zine writer. What he got was an unexpected friend. From the beginning, they’re friendship is an unexpected one. Marisol tries to teach John that the truth is the most important, while he falls steadfast in love with her. Eventually, his love with push her away.

    I loved this book. Marisol’s biting sarcasm, and John’s trail of thought leaps off the page. You’ll be turning the page, faster and faster just hoping to find out what happens next. Ellen Wittlinger, the author, gives a variety of views to the story. Through zines, and other character’s words, you watch an interesting story weave itself. It won’t go the way you expected, definitely.

    I would recommend this to basically everyone. It’s a beautiful story, beautifully written. If you like surprises, then it’s definitely for you.