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For other uses, see Hard Love disambiguation. Hard Love is an award-winning young adult novel written by author Ellen Wittlinger. It was published in John, who can be mean since his parents' divorce six years ago, and Marisol, who has recently come out as a lesbian , meet through their interests in writing zines , into which they pour their life stories.
As the story begins, John wonders what it would be like to meet one of his favorite zine writers, Marisol. Over time they start to spend more time together and she teaches him the ways of the zine writer. After Marisol tells John that she likes him, he is very surprised. No one had ever told him that they liked him, and he falls in love with her. Marisol doesn't know how to let him down, without losing her new best friend.
Throughout the story, John and Marisol try to keep their friendship intact through writing zines together. While John is spending time with his divorced father, he starts to ask questions about Al, the man his mother is marrying.
John gets angry and throws a tantrum. Seemingly childish, the outburst becomes a topic for his writing, which he asks Marisol to read, instead of discarding it as he usually would have.
As the two friends share more about their lives, John begins to think about his own sexuality. He believes he might be straight, perhaps because he develops feelings for Marisol. The pressure from John's friends to attend the prom lead him to ask Marisol, who is aware that John only wants to go as friends.
At the prom, she is confused at John's desire to parade his heterosexuality to his friends. When John tries to kiss her, Marisol refuses. She yells at him, announcing that she is strictly lesbian, and that she thought he understood.
Regretting his actions, John assumes he will never see Marisol again. To his surprise, Marisol calls him and she does not seem mad. Marisol tells him that this is the chance to express his feelings to his parents about their relationships, so he does.
John writes letters to his mother and father, mails his father's to him, leaves his mother's on the pillow, and heads to the bus station to meet with Marisol. One long bus ride later, they arrive at the conference surrounded by cabins and writers. John sees one of his favorite writers, Dianna Tree. As the weekend passes, Dianna and John develop a relationship while Marisol is off partying. Dianna sings a song for John called "Hard Love.
John is completely taken aback by Marisol's plans. He tries to talk to her before she leaves but, running short on time, she hurries away. John is left to sort through his relationship with his parents and finish his last year of high school. Publishers Weekly found Hard Love "somewhat overdramatized" but "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.
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Hard Love Summary
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. 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.