Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Hard Love” as Want to Read:
Hard Love
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Hard Love

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  7,153 ratings  ·  477 reviews

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

Paperback, 256 pages
Published April 1st 2001 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers (first published 1999)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Hard Love, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Hard Love

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,153 ratings  ·  477 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Hard Love
so - more damaged kids attracting each other like magnets, filling in the places left by distant, absent, or overinvolved adults. a strange choice for LGBTQPR3Z week. sure, it is about a friendless boy whose home life is emotionally barren and a firecracker of a lesbian, but it isn't really about sexuality - that part is used more as window dressing than spotlit, and only serves as an obstacle to keep the characters from kissing. she's cool, he's not, and yet they form a relationship based on zi ...more
Mar 14, 2009 rated it did not like it
"I am immune to emotion. I have been ever since I can remember. Which is helpful when people appeal to my sympathy. I don't seem to have any."

Oh my GODDDDD, a young adult book about someone SO TERRIBLY DAMAGED that they are IMMUNE TO EMOTION. How new and exciting. NOT. This is teen angst at its worst. Especially since the main character, John, is totally not immune to emotion. He spends the entire book whining about how hurt he is by his parents who got divorced when John was ten and then became
Oct 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american
Karen is waiting patiently for this review, or sort of patiently, or waiting because she has no choice. I guess the biggest thing here is a finished this a bit ago so this won't be the best review ever, percolating makes me fuzzy not more thoughtful like other people.

Reading this book I was like THIS BOOK IS THE STRANGER. it's like what would happen if camus wanted the stranger to have a happy ending, or you know the stranger has a happy ending but I mean a like traditional happy ending. or not
Do you remember your first love/crush? Do you remember wanting to tell him/her but squirm at the thought of doing so? Do you remember thinking it was hopeless and futile?

Then this is the book for you. Meet John Galardi, a loner and a teenager with divorced parents, trying to express himself through his zine, Bananafish. His inspiration, Marisol Guzman, creator of the zine Escape Velocity and a self proclaimed "rich spoiled lesbian private-school gifted-and-talented writer virgin."

The two would m
Feb 14, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: young-adult
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Re-read of one of my favourite books as a pre-teen, and it's still so good. All I remember from it was Marisol's zine title, Escape Velocity, and that I loved it. Now I think I better appreciate the adolescent issues and I love how the author tries out so many different voices and they all feel so real to me, offering honest perspectives without contradicting or trying to contest one another. Amazing writing too. ...more
Hannah Carrillo
Jan 12, 2011 rated it did not like it
Ugg this book was a drag. Very emo and not in a good way. It's one of those. "Let's feel sorry about ourselves because daddy doesn't love me and the only girl I've ever loved is a Lesbian and I have no friends." Complete drain and bore! ...more
Alyssah Hanna
Dec 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
For the first 3/4 of this book, I didn't like it at all. Something (homework avoidance?) kept me plodding along until the ending, which I liked a lot better than the rest.

John Galardi, high school junior and zine writer, comes from a broken Boston-area home. During the week he lives with his depressed mother, who refuses to touch him, and on weekends he visits his cold selfish father and distributes copies of his zine at the nearby Tower Records. (yeah, the concept of a print zine is kind of da
Feb 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Hard Love is a beautiful, heartbreaking, thought-provoking love story between two teenagers. The biggest catch though, is that one of them is gay. John knows Marisol is gay because of the zines (self-produced magazines) she writes. Her zines are full of wit, sarcasm, and brutal honestly. John waits for Marisol at a local comic book shop, hoping to meet his favorite zine writer. What he got was an unexpected friend. From the beginning, they’re friendship is an unexpected one. Marisol tries to te ...more
Irena BookDustMagic
Mar 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite
this is my absolutely favorite book. i have read it for the first time 7 years ago and since then have been re-reading it so many times.
this is powerful story about boy who is all by himself becouse he doesn't get enough love from his parents and he refuses to have any feelings, but when he finally allows himself to feel love it turns to be hard love becouse he falls in love with his best friend lesbian. so sad story.
i confess, i still cry in some parts of the book.
Claudia Hotea
Jan 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
“Yes it’s hard love, but it’s love all the same,
Not the stuff of fantasy but more than just a game.
And the only kind of miracle that’s worthy of the name,
For the love that heals our lives is mostly hard love.”
Trent Kay
Oct 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
It's a bad sign when you prefer a book's dedication page to the actual book. Read this one in high school and liked it a whole lot better then. At least the late-90s references to Ani and the zine scene made sense a decade ago. Gio is hilarious, his narration is withering and spot-on, there's a tinge of Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You in his observations. That said: I wish Marisol weren't the most obnoxious character ever. "Don't lie to me, Gio." "I'm a dyke, Gio." "You've really fucked ...more
This book grew on me and although I wouldn't say it's a literary masterpiece it makes for a decent YA novel. The premise is kind of interesting -- straight guy meets gay girl and falls in love. I think the voice is really well developed by the writer so the characters are full of life and you start to feel like you actually know them. Johnny and Marisol both write zines so even though Johnny's the narrator, we do get insight into both of the character's thoughts/feelings/ideas/emotions.

Still, th
Agatha Lund
Aug 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
I love Wittlinger's books for their realistic endings; no happy ever after for her, but real teenage problems and real teenage angst. She also writes reasonably well about questioning your sexuality, though I'm curious if I'll still feel that way after I read her newest, Parrotfish.

Regardless -- this is a story about John, who falls in love with his lesbian best friend Marisol, and how they manage to navigate their own problems and the problems between them and come out feeling if not whole at
Nov 11, 2007 rated it really liked it
Excellent YA lit. The characters break out of the mold of boring, conformist high school character and succeed in being fascinating, original, believable characters who fully exist outside their high schools' social structures. I really enjoyed the author's mix of John's friendship with Marisol with his relationships with his parents. A mother who ceased to touch him at all after her divorce and a father who considers Friday-night dinners fulfillment of his paternal duties added to the complexit ...more
May 12, 2009 rated it it was ok
Meh. I wanted to like this, with the zines and the lesbians and the angst, but the deep apathy of the main character combined with a thin plot was more than I could bear.
Mandeep Singh
Oct 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read it at a very young age and it kind of stayed with me always.
Kris Rafferty
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I want to say this is an easy read but it wouldn’t do the experience justice. Insightful and heart-tugging.
Hamza El Moussaoui
Oct 28, 2019 rated it liked it
A cute story about how we can not control who we fall in love after building walls to protect our feelings
Sep 23, 2014 rated it liked it
Printz Honor 2000

This book, for me, shows some of the pitfalls in the way that Printz books appear to be chosen. There are always a couple, usually among the honors books, that seem to be awarded for their edginess and/or inclusion of an Important Topic than for being all-around outstanding literature. Hard Love is well-written, for sure, and it's an engaging read. And I'm sure it was very cutting edge in 2000, but 15 years later, that edge is seriously dulled. What makes this story stand out fr
Dec 07, 2010 rated it it was ok
This story seemed pretty typical to me, although when it was published it was probably less-of-the-norm. You have the cold hearted guy and the eccentric girl who draws him out of his shell and forces him to care. There's nothing really unpredictable about this book, for all of John's complaining, I would complain that he's fairly predictable. At least Marisol managed to surprise me every once in a while. I also didn't care for the ending as it left one relationship hanging in the balance, I woul ...more
Apr 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Hard Love led me to contemplate issues that I hadn't put much thought into previously, and the depth to which they were explored in this book was so powerful. With a difficult home life, the protagonist, John, has already received his fair share of hard love. When he meets Marisol, however, he discovers he hasn't experienced half of it.

Marisol's character is so interesting to me. Clearly she's been through a lot, and a series of events has led her to become an individual who has an extremely dif
Mar 25, 2008 rated it liked it
Hard Love
Ellen Wittlinger

Walking passed that person- that girl or guy you just can’t stop thinking of-gives you a bag of butterflies fluttering around in your stomach. You find your mind wondering off. How wonderful life wou- then you come back to earth realizing that no matter what he/she will never love you back. This is the slice of a bigger heart in the book Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger.

In the book Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger, a boy named John “Giovanni” meets a gir
May 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is the best book that I've read in a long while. I loved it. It's about a high school boy named John-Gio who reads a few zines and starts one himself. Through this he meets this girl named Marisol. Their friendship changes his life. It's like, when you've been shut down for so long and someone comes along and makes you feel for the first time. I'm also a sucker for people who express themselves in writing. I feel you get to know a lot about yourself and as a reader, possibly, you get to see ...more
Martina Roces
Sep 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed
Guy becomes friends with girl through a shared love of making zines, guy falls in love with said girl who is unfortunately a lesbian. Hard love, indeed.

John comes from a broken family and he's pretty much a loner ("a witty misanthrope", according to him). Marisol is an adopted Puerto Rican "rich spoiled lesbian private-school gifted-and-talented writer virgin looking for love." At the start of their friendship, everything is alright. Marisol is a bit guarded though of her feelings and she doesn'
Ginger Lau
Nov 20, 2007 rated it really liked it
It's been a while since I've read a realistic fiction YA novel and I was not disappointed by Hard Love. Hard Love is told from the perspective of John, a High School Junior who is incapable of expressing his emotions. He hides behind his journal and his "zine", Bananafish. Writing is his escape, his only place to be who he is. The reason for his isolation from the world and his enclosed heart is the divorce of his parents. John's father left his mother and throughout John's childhood his father ...more
Sep 29, 2010 rated it liked it
The beginning of the book was ridiculously slow. The plot didn't pick up until about half way through. The characters didn't have a stand out personality. They seemed to be those kids that are hiden and shy.

Gio, the alone teenage boy doesn't really understand the "liking" of the oposite sex, but when he meets Marisol, who in this case is lesbian, he falls in love. Giving the impression that he doesn't really know what he wants. Marisol is a bit confused as well. She knows that her preference i
Jul 11, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, young-adult
You could say Hard Love is the story of a boy's first love, but anyone who is going or has gone through their teen years knows first love is never that simple. In Ellen Wittlinger's Lambda Literary award winning short novel, we hear from John 'Gio' Galardi Jr. as he experiences hard love, first in his strained relationship with his divorced parents and then with Marisol, a fellow 'zine writer.

This novel explores themes relevant to young adults, including self-discovery, testing boundaries, sexu
Aug 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Marisol has a lot to show John about how to write a good zine. And she’s fine with letting him and everyone else know she’s a lesbian--which isn’t a problem until he falls in love with her.

John’s voice feels very authentic, pouring out on the page what is hard for him to speak out loud. The layout of the book is engaging, with drawings and collages in the front pages, some paragraphs skewed at odd angles, handwritten notes and poems on lined paper, and excerpts from cut-and-paste xeroxed zines.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • True Believer (Make Lemonade, #2)
  • Kissing Kate
  • Variant (Variant, #1)
  • Around My French Table: More than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours
  • Do or Die
  • Smack
  • The Boy in the Black Suit
  • When I Was Puerto Rican
  • Turtle in Paradise
  • Sarah
  • The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo
  • The Sluts
  • The Woman with the Flying Head and Other Stories
  • Our Wives Under the Sea
  • Lullabies
  • Two Knotty Boys Showing You the Ropes: A Step-by-Step, Illustrated Guide for Tying Sensual and Decorative Rope Bondage
  • Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America
  • Monster
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Ellen Wittlinger is the critically acclaimed author of 15 young adult novels including Parrotfish, Heart on My Sleeve, Love & Lies: Marisol's Story, Razzle, What's in a Name, and Hard Love (an American Library Association Michael L. Printz Honor Book, a Lambda Literary Award winner, and a Booklist Editors' Choice). She has a bachelor's degree from Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, and an M ...more

Related Articles

  If you've been paying attention to BookTok and bestseller charts, then you'll know author Colleen Hoover is having quite the day in the...
97 likes · 18 comments
“I watched her walk away, first thinking: good riddance – who needs this abuse? And then after a minute thinking: she never really understood me anyway. Which rapidly changed to: I never understood her at all. And before long I was watching her small back disappear and thinking: there goes the only person who ever gave a damn about me.” 37 likes
“It's a lie, you know, to pretend that nothing is important to you. It's hiding. Believe me, I know because I hid for a long time. But now I won't do it anymore. The truth is bioluminescent. I don't lie, and I don't waste time on people who do.” 25 likes
More quotes…