Study Guide

Hard Love Literature and Writing

By Ellen Wittlinger

Literature and Writing

When your main character is a writer, it's no surprise that the novel is full of observations about the process of writing itself. Hard Love looks at zines specifically, but really, we can apply what it says to all writing. John thinks about the different people we can become through writing, and he also tells us that writing something makes it true, regardless of whether it is.

His commentary on writing is usually tied up in finding identity—another major theme in this book—but it also helps us understand him as a character. John loves writing because of the escape and clarity it gives him; when writing, John can be honest. And that's something he rarely is in real life, despite what he tells Marisol.

Questions About Literature and Writing

  1. Why does John write his feelings instead of express them? What is it that he enjoys about writing? 
  2. How does John think his writing makes people feel? How does it actually make people feel? Why is he surprised that he's "poignant"? 
  3. What does John tell us about Marisol and Diana's writing? Why is it important that he reads their work before meeting each of them?

Chew on This

In Hard Love, characters are truer to themselves in writing than in real life.

John might use writing as a way to withdraw from the world, but it actually draws him closer to it. Through writing, he connects with Marisol and Diana.

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