Hard Love

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John, untouchable since his parents' divorce six years ago, and Marisol, who's recently come out as a lesbian, meet through their interest in writing zines, personal homemade magazines into which they pour their life stories.


"The awkwardness of awakening sexuality, a growing preoccupation with identity and crossing the line from friendship to more are themes here with which teens will readily identify." --Publisher's Weekly

"Hard Love is a touching and real story of a group of outsiders trying to make the human connections they need to survive and thrive. It is a novel of discovery, and one of those discoveries is that love is unavoidable, even when you love the wrong person. And even when you love the wrong person, the knowledge that you can love anyone at all still makes you feel very much alive." --Author Nancy Matson

"Every so often you'll come across a YA novel that will make you glad you get to review this genre....HARD LOVE is that kind of book." --Jordan Baker, Teenreads.com

"Too much of the fiction aimed at teens is trite and unimaginative or melodramatic. Hard Love is none of these. Instead, Ellen Wittlinger treats us to a story of unrequited love in which the characters are three-dimensional." --SNN Student Magazine


Lambda Awards

Discussion Guide

This discussion guide was created by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer.

Just for Fun! A HARD LOVE tune

Did you know HARD LOVE was a song before it was a book title? It's true!

Bob Franke wrote the song HARD LOVE, and you can hear him sing it on his website, bobfranke.com.

So check it out -- HARD LOVE lyrics -- when you have time. Many thanks to Bob Franke for providing such melodic inspiration.


Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books Blue Ribbon Book, 1999
School Library Journal Best Book of 1999
Booklist Editor's Choice, 1999
School Library Journal Starred Review, 2000
Booklist Starred Review, 2000
Michigan Library Association Thumbs Up Award for Young Adult Novels, 2000
Lambda Literary Award, 2000
Printz Award Honor Book, 2000
A YALSA Quick Pick for Young Adults, 2000
A YALSA Best Book for Young Adults, 2000
New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age list, 2000 and 2001
International Reading Association Young Adult Choice, 2001
Nominated: Eliot Rosewater (Indiana) High School Book Award, 2001
Nominated: Rhode Island Teen Book Award, 2001
Nominated: Missouri Gateway Reader's Choice Award, 2001
Nominated: Maryland Library Association Black-Eyed Susan Award, 2001-02
Pennsylvania School Librarian’s Association list, 2001-02
A YALSA Popular Paperback for Young Adults, 2002
Finalist: Evergreen (Washington) Young Adult Book Award, 2002
Nominated: Tennessee Volunteer State Book Award, 2003-04
YALSA's 100 Best of the Best for the 21st Century, 1994-2003

Publishing Information

Simon and Schuster, 1999

website design © cmoore, website contents © Ellen Wittlinger