Title: It Only Happens in the Movies
Author: Holly Bourne
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Usborne Publishing
Release Date: October 1st 2017
Audrey is over romance. Since her parents’ relationship imploded her mother’s been catatonic, so she takes a cinema job to get out of the house. But there she meets wannabe film-maker Harry. Nobody expects Audrey and Harry to fall in love as hard and fast as they do. But that doesn’t mean things are easy. Because real love isn’t like the movies…
The greatest love story ever told doesn’t feature kissing in the snow or racing to airports. It features pain and confusion and hope and wonder and a ban on cheesy clichés. Oh, and zombies… YA star Holly Bourne tackles real love in this hugely funny and poignant novel.
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Let me begin by saying It Only Happens in the Movies has got to be the most realistic contemporary YA book I’ve read so far. It’s astonishing how it offers the most accurate depictions of real-life relationships and how it delivers empowering messages through a light, refreshing narrative.
It follows a slice of Audrey Winters’ life while she struggles her way through a family problem and a bad break-up. She has witnessed how love can ruin lives in front of her eyes that she seems to be living the “behind every untrusting girl is a guy who made her that way” quote and she even repulses romance films for that. With the aim to get away from her daily stressors once in a while, she takes a job at a local cinema called Flicker where she meets another nuisance in the person of Harry Lipton. Everyone warns her about this charming “fuckboy” and so she tries to dodge his flirtations away. Apparently however, Harry possesses some magnetism in him that dazzles women, haplessly including Audrey.
I don’t really despise romantic films as much as Audrey does, but I admit that I seldom watch films from the genre. I agree that most of those films give fabricated notions and they can be really treacherous, especially considering how teenagers can become so gullible at times and easy to form unrealistic expectations for things based on what they see in the media. And what I love most about It Only Happens in the Movies is how it defied conventional romance genre concepts. Holly Bourne pointed out clichés in romantic films that are actually problematic when pictured in real-life situations, and I found myself favoring to the many rants expressed by the main character that I actually heard myself say “PREACH GIRL, PREACH” a lot of times whilst reading. In the beginning of each chapter, the author presented a trope in romance films and then she figuratively slaps our faces with the reality of it in a succeeding exposition.
The characters in this book felt genuine. They may have been portrayed to have strong assets but their vulnerabilities were also bared out, and these are vulnerabilities that we witness in people around us. Audrey could be an excellent actress, a caring daughter, and a bold feminist, but she could also be a bad friend and an insecure girlfriend. In the same way, Harry could be a great director and a witty conversationalist but he also could not get away from his vices and he could not resist certain temptations. I really have no qualms as to the rest of the characters. I only wish that Harry’s mysterious family was given a little exposure and I kind of half expected for Audrey’s father to turn sympathetic in the end but I liked how everything turned out anyway.
To me, the ending was perfectly crafted. It seemingly established that men’s awful behaviors should not be tolerated nor romanticized and their disrespect for women cannot be mended by apologies nor romantic gestures. Besides that, it also promoted self-love. Books that challenged normal happy endings have existed before but no one did it quite like Holly Bourne.
I couldn’t think of any nondescript scene or chapter from this book as the writing was really enjoyable. I could have read the whole of it in one sitting if only my day job did not get in the way. Overall, I think It Only Happens in the Movies is a flawless mix of giggles and drama, and I will never stop recommending it to other people.
My Rating: ★★★★★
*ABOUT THE AUTHOR*
Holly Bourne writes YA novels and blogs about feminist issues. Her favourite things to complain loudly about are: the stigma of mental health, women’s rights, and the under-appreciation of Keanu Reeves’ acting ability.
Holly’s first two books, Soulmates and The Manifesto on How to be Interesting, have been critically acclaimed and translated into six languages. The first book in the ‘Normal’ series, Am I Normal Yet?, has been chosen as a World Book Night book for 2016 and has inspired the formation of Spinster Clubs around the country.
Before becoming a full-time author, Holly was editor and relationship advisor for a charity website.
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