It Only Happens in the Movies ★★★☆☆
Genre(s) | Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Goodreads Rating | 4.23
Humpo Show Rating | 3.50
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…
Many people will have been in the same position as Audrey. She’s broken up with her boyfriend and has sworn off love and boys at the age of eighteen, but then she meets Harry- a guy who chain smokes, does drugs, has a brilliant white smile, and flirts all the time- the boy girls are warned about. Yet, as the friendship develops between them, it becomes a relationship and despite all the warnings from colleagues and friends, a crumbling homelife, a ex-boyfriend that effectively caused her to drop her favourite school subject, Audrey becomes happy. With all of the problems and issues in her life, Audrey has a lot of pressure placed on her, and she has to make hundreds of decisions at a time of immense change. Bourne manages to create a story where she ably crams all of Audrey’s emotions into the pages of this entertaining book.
I was not completely sold on the romance between Audrey and Harry. Too many times he would grin “showing all his teeth” (that chagrined me as it was repeated A LOT!) and Audrey’s stomach would do flips and she would melt (another overused expression). The pair of them (Harry more so than Audrey) made too many poorly judged actions regarding the get-to-know-you stage and even more in the actual relationship. I found myself shaking my head whenever they said something or did something that would obviously end in tears. Harry did not come across as a boyfriend that Audrey would have- the aspects of his character were comprised of smiling (with all his teeth), sudden bursts of passion, and flirtatious banter- the deep and meaningful arc of his character was glossed over. The relationship with his parents is mentioned all too briefly, and Audrey never hears the extent of it, which LouLou hints at. In short, they were a couple I could not envisage having any staying power, and I struggled to accept the reasons why they were together.
Bourne writes very well. I can understand why she is revered in the YA Contemporary genre- she gives a realistic portrayal of an eighteen-year-old girl and all the internal feelings that one possesses, the stress of a traumatic homelife, the anxiety surrounding sex, the pressure concerned with studies and applying for university, and the physical stuff that girls deal with. She talks about issues such as consent and periods without it coming across as a lecture, she talks about it with a sense of normality. Bourne uses humour and some relatable metaphors (I presume) about the things Audrey experiences, but she does so in a way that doesn’t make light of the issues that are mentioned.
It Only Happens in the Movies is an engaging read that features many aspects of modern life that teen girls would associate themselves with, the school and work balance, new friendships and relationships, as well as looking and planning future careers and education. Bourne tackles a plethora of romantic cliches by having a relationship that is ‘normal’, full of rows, insecurities and banter- but not filled with what she termed as the “small mistakes” that film couples experience but overcome and have a picture-perfect kiss. This is a nice YA Contemporary read, and I would be intrigued to read more of Bourne’s work, plus the cover is bright and beautiful.