Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Holly Bourne: It Only Happens In The Movies | Book Review

If you read my last book review, you'll know that I recently became fond of Holly Bourne; an extremely talented Teens & Young Adult author. I was very happy to spot this novel which is one of her latest in my local library. 

Audrey is not one to be interested in romance since she had a bad experience with her ex boyfriend and her parents relationship turned upside down, leaving her mother's moods absolutely erratic. Audrey's brother Dougie is away at university and Audrey is left to look after her broken mother but cannot stand being in the house any longer, leading her to pick up a part-time job at a local cinema. Here she meets Harry, a charming young man, around the same age as Audrey who she instantly knows is trouble. Harry makes films and him and Audrey click almost instantly and before we know it, they are falling in love quicker than anyone expected, but when you fall in love, is it ever easy? Does it really turn out like the movies? 

Throughout this novel, Bourne explores all of the untold, hidden and realistic misconceptions surrounding love and romance. I must admit, when picking up this book, I initially couldn't get into it until around page 160, I felt that the story line was tedious and slow but later discovered that this may be due to the fact that romance novels, aren't my go-to choice. Despite being completely different to Audrey, I did find her to be a very relatable character to the point where she almost feels like someone you know in real life. Audrey is a very intelligent and strong-minded individuals with some really admirable traits. She sticks by what she stands for and she won't let anybody push those barriers down for her. We learn some of her values throughout the novel including how she doesn't want to be associated with drugs and alcohol and therefore isn't afraid to say no to doing them. She knows her worth and she is very aware of what is good and bad for her as well as what she wants and deserves. I find her a very inspiring character.

We also learn early on in the novel that Audrey studies media studies, a second subject option after dropping drama (which she adored) to avoid seeing her ex boyfriend and his new girlfriend. In class, she decides to base her work around how films and specifically how movies portray love and romance, how realistic they are and how they compare to the real world. I found that this characteristic links nicely with both the fact that she works in a cinema and the romantic story-line of this novel. Within this novel, I soon became aware that at the beginning of certain chapters, there is an extract of an essay focusing on different, specific aspects of romance films, which I presume relates back to her media studies course. An example being that at the beginning of chapter 26, there is a small extract talking about 'the big date'. I feel that this is such an impressive idea and so unique. 

Moving onto Harry, the mysterious love and romance seeker who has the stereotypical 'bad boy' charm to him, who is so blatantly trouble from the beginning and Audrey can see that too, but you can't help falling in love and as Audrey's love grows for Harry, we also start to warm up to him because he's not all bad and he does seem to like her. Harry is obsessed over becoming a successful film maker, and has a keen interest in creating zombie films in particular. Harry has been looking for someone to play a zombie bride in his newest project and when him and another work colleague, Lou discovers that Audrey likes to act, they realise that they have found the perfect match. It doesn't take long to realise that Audrey and Harry do have some rather bold differences one being that Harry likes to party, drink alcohol and take drugs whereas Audrey is not interested in any of these things. I think that it can be reassuring to see two people, who aren't the same, fall in love and to go on their journey with them, through their ups and downs because we are all aware that no relationship is perfect, but that doesn't mean that they can't work. This novel is definitely different and a complete contrast to most romance novels. It feels like quite a risk as people were going to either love it or hate it, but I admire Bourne for taking that risk because this novel is written beautifully, with an engaging story-line that so many people will be able to relate to.

It Only Happens In The Movies is filled with feminism, where the characters quite openly talk about romance, sex and periods without judgement, they are aware of what they want within a relationship and have no shame with sharing that with each other, they are a mature group of friends who are more than happy to support each other. I absolutely love how this novel tackles the typical cliques head on, and we experience the typical romance from a different perspective. This novel shows how important it is to be able to distinguish the difference from how films portray romance and how it realistically is. We can still enjoy the romance films, just being wise enough to know that they aren't reality. This book also teaches that it is OK to be single, that we don't need to have a partner to be complete because we are fine as we are and in some cases, better.

Overall, this is an extremely eye-opening novel that I think everybody needs to read at least once. It isn't the typical romance novel and is very empowering. Despite not enjoying this novel at first, once I had finished it, I couldn't stop thinking about it and therefore rated it on Goodreads as five stars. If you stumble across this book, do pick it up because it is one of the honest novels I have ever read.

Reading Next: Lara Williamson: A Boy Named Hope


Thank-you for reading, Tay x

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