By Ellen Wittlinger
(Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Paperback, 9780689841545, 256pp.)
Publication Date: April 1, 2001
Categories: Social Issues - Adolescence
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 self-proclaimed "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 born.
While at first their friendship is based on zines, dysfuntional 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 be.
With 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.
Ellen Wittlinger is the critically acclaimed author of the teen novels Love & Lies: Marisol's Story, Parrotfish, Blind Faith, Sandpiper, Heart on My Sleeve, Zigzag, and Hard Love (an American Library Association Michael L. Printz Honor Book and a Lambda Literary Award winner), and the middle-grade novel Gracie's Girl. She has a bachelor's degree from Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, and an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa. A former children's librarian, she lives with her husband in Haydenville, Massachusetts.
Publishers Weekly The awkwardness of awakening sexuality, a growing preoccupation with identity, and crossing the line from friendship to more are all themes here with which teens will readily identify.
Booklist Even minor characters on the edges of the story are wonderfully crafted and convincing. Teenagers should be prepared to laugh, wince, rage, weep, and heave at least one deep sigh when they read this meaningful story. Highly recommended for high school readers.
School Library Journal This is a smart addition to YA collections and a good recommendation to readers who may be feeling outside the norm.
Kirkus Reviews (Wittlinger's) bittersweet portrait of an adolescent writer caught up in a quixotic first love will snare susceptible readers.
VOYA Remembering that adolescence is a trying time filled with questions and feelings, Hard Love is an intriguing and absorbing novel.