Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Hard Love

Simon & Schuster 2001. 228 pages
First published: 1999
ISBN: 9780689841545 (paperback)
9781439115565 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Novel
Book genre: Realistic

Text Elements:

characterization, dialogue, figurative language, multimodal, point of view

Award

Michael L. Printz Honor Book – 2000

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

John’s zine is the only place he expresses his feelings. Child of a broken home, John feels both parents seem to have divorced him, not just each other. Guarded and lonely, he keeps everyone—even his only friend Brian—at arm’s length. But the budding friendship of fellow zine-creator, Marisol, changes this, as John finds self-esteem in his writing and a kindred spirit in this small, scrappy, lesbian writer. Through unrequited love, John finally feels his own pain, launching himself on a journey of real human connection.

The theme of creative writing offers a wonderful range of language styles in this story about coming out of one’s shell. Facetious interviews, reflective rants and shared poems make for varied reading, while showing many of the forms self-expression can take.

The fast-moving plot explores a range of catalytic situations and characters: John’s small-town junior prom, weekends in Boston hanging out with Marisol, a zine conference in bohemian rainbow-friendly Provincetown, Cape Cod.

The connection between physicality, sexuality and emotion is skillfully portrayed: “I’m so protected now, dear Mother, sometimes I feel like I’m barely alive. I’m immune to emotion. And I hate you for it. Your loving son, John.” In his transformation from having little interest in romance into an ardent, would-be lover, John opens himself to a world of intimate relationships—including reaching out to his own family and new friends. “I’m, ready, I think, to join them. Very anxious, more than a little scared, susceptible now to anything that might happen.”

  •  

    To initiate an inquiry, genre study or book club discussion, consider the characteristics of relationships in realistic YA romance. Identify the conventions and keep a class list or anchor chart.

  •  

    How is John characterized? Marisol? Consider the things they say and do, and what others say about them.

  •  

    Initiate an inquiry into the ways adolescent relationships are portrayed in popular texts such as YA literature, film or television series. Develop a suitable question and collect data that addresses it. Share your findings with classmates.

  •  

    Create a preliminary word web for zines. Enrich the word web as a class, using teacher-selected resources to research zines online. Discuss why people create them.

  •  

    In Chapter 14, we learn that John wrote a “Dear Dad” letter, but the reader doesn’t get to read it. Write the letter in John’s voice.

  •  

    Explain why “Hard Love” might typify the relationships in this novel. Creatively present your explanation in the form of a zine.

  • To construct his/her identity
  • To exercise critical judgment
  • To use creativity
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Personal and Career Planning
  • Personal Development
  • Visual Arts