Cover Image: Pretending

Pretending

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Member Reviews

I'm a massive Holly Bourne fan, reading everything she's ever written. Pretending is her second adult novel, and while it was an engaging and smart read, I didn't feel like it was as good as her previous novel.

Would still recommend to fans, but prefer How Do You Like Me Now?
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A wonderful book that I'd recommend for the 20-30 age bracket, although can be enjoyed by late teens and those older too. There are serious issues which are dealt with sensitively but realistically. The characters are easy to identify with and root for. A very enjoyable read.
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I am a longtime fan of Holly Bourne’s writing and her second novel for adults didn’t disappoint. In fact, I think it was far better than her much-loved first (How Do You Like Me Now?). It tells the story of April, who struggles to ever get past date five. Every time she thinks she’s found someone to trust, they reveal themselves to be awful, leaving her heartbroken, upset and angry. So she decides to take a new tact and pretends to be the woman every man seems to want – Gretel, the Regular Everyday Manic Pixie Dream Girl Next Door With No Problems. But, of course, it isn’t that easy. I sped through this 450 page book in just a few days and enjoyed it so much it sent me into a reading slump afterwards – no book seemed to live up to it! The characters have stuck with me and Holly Bourne’s therapeutic training comes out in her accurate descriptions of trauma and disassociation. I also loved the descriptions of London (it made me crave Dishoom so much!)
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This is a brilliantly incisive, clever book about the ways women contort themselves to fit what they're told to want, and what they're told men want. Sharp, wise and also very funny and very generous, I've recommended it to multiple friends!
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Excellent read, entertaining and fun whilst tackling some important issues. Having struggled to read my usual amount of books since lockdown began I've finally gradually got back into it and am glad I chose this book to resume a bit of normality in these odd times.
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Holly has once again delivered a novel full of relatable characters and emotional scenes. Strong content warning or sexual assault; from the beginning this book can be quite intense in places. It made me think a lot about how experiences shape our assumptions about people, especially in the dating world. The boxing class scenes in particular left me super emotional and I would definitely recommend this powerful story.
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Unfortunately, I have not been able to read and review this book.

After losing and replacing my broken Kindle and getting a new phone I was unable to download the title again for review as it was no longer available on Netgalley. 

I’m really sorry about this and hope that it won’t affect you allowing me to read and review your titles in the future.

Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity. 
Natalie.
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Life After Trauma......
When protagonist April begins to pretend to be someone else in her efforts to seek revenge and escape past trauma she unleashes all types of chaos. Emotional themes and heavy, sensitive issues well observed but, perhaps, seeking a younger audience.
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Holly Bourne has written a beautiful, well researched novel which is both thought provoking and necessary. 

This might be the most informed book I have read this year and would encourage both men and women to pick up a copy. 

Please be aware that the subject matter of this book deals with the impact of sexual violence and may not be right for everyone.
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I didn't really enjoy this book.
The topics of rape, sexual abuse and mental health are really heavy throughout the book and while I commend the author for talking about these issues so explicitly I did not expect it to be as heavy as it was.
The majority of the book is April moaning about how much she hates men because they are all the same and always hurt her and don't like to ever talk about anything too serious and after reading it I feel like I've been brainwashed into thinking the same which isn't a good thing the book should be promoting.
I like Megan and Joshua and I'm glad it was a happy ending but this book just missed the mark for me.
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He said he was looking for a 'partner in crime' which everyone knows is shorthand for 'a women who isn't real'.

Despite the premise of this book sounding like something written by Sophie Kinsella or Lindsay Kelk, this book is not light or fluffy as it contains major triggers for rape and sexual abuse. It is not a topic that was brushed over or mentioned lightly, considering the chick-lit vibe the book has at the beginning, so use caution while reading.

I love Holly Bourne and was completely amazed by her previous novel, The Places I've Cried In Public, which I read earlier this year. It follows a similar theme when it comes to abuse, but in this book it was explored even more careful. I like how much research went into this novel, and especially that the way Holly writes her charaters is psychologicaly precise and multilayered.

April was complex and memorable character. She was written in a relatable way, with her struggles of wanting to be loved and being in a relationship, yet being unable to trust men and thinking every one of them will hurt her. Her anxiety was shown in such a realistic way, as well as her panic, obsession and self-blame. I loved her character arc as well, as she really progressed and matured over time.

I think what really stood out to me is how emotionally the rape aspect was portrayed, with April's triggers and guilt, and the way her job was affecting her and her mental health. However, it realistically shown some other adult struggles, like not being married after 30, people wanting to help but none of them completely understanding, it all felt balanced and complex.

Even though I assumed this book will have a positive message, I'm glad Holly really did justice to April's story. It a perfect balance of feminism, healing, and learning to love yourself. I'm completely sure now that Holly Bourne is amazing author, and I wanna read every single thing she's ever written.

Thanks to Netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton for providing me with eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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This was a very hard-hitting, difficult but excellent read. Parts of it were extremely funny in a dark sort of way, and others made me cry. Deserves ALL the hype.
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A difficult read as it deals with some emotional issues, but I wanted to finish to see what happened in the end.
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In this cool contemporary written by Holly Bourne, we follow April who feels out of place in the world. So she does what everybody else does, become somebody else on the Internet. Dating is a particularly difficult subject for her so when her attempts at dating keep failing, she takes on this persona Gretel. As soon as Gretel becomes real, Joshua messages her and they begin seeing each other. See, Gretel is everything that April isn’t. Gretel is the manic pixie dream girl that men want but as she and Joshua grow closer together, April must decide to tell him the truth that Gretel isn’t real or keep on lying to him and hiding behind this façade. 

On the outside, this book seems like an adult contemporary book that you can easily breeze through. Though yes, that is true we also have some hard-hitting subjects such as PTSD and abuse. She works at a charity helpline helping people with what she went through herself. This constantly triggers her but she knows she is doing something good from a bad situation.

Overall, this book was a solid read considering that this was Bourne’s second book in the adult genre. 

3 out of 5 stars.
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Hmm I'm definitely on the fence with this one. I love Holly's writing and I so wanted to love this but I found it just ok. I love how Holly always picks important and thought provoking topics in her stories. This one focuses on April and how she is coping with the aftermath of being a victim of rape by her boyfriend and how this has impacted her life in terms of dating and how she views men. Understandably April comes across as very angry but I didn't really enjoy the whole hatred of all men nor the whole April/Gretal saga. There were some bits that gave me a chuckle and parts of it were very apt in relation to the world of dating in the modern age of dating apps when your in your 30's. However i just found that the story dragged and I wasn't invested in it as much as some of Holly's previous books
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Let me start by saying I am a big fan of Holly’s YA novels (even at age 32) and I quite liked her debut adult novel last.  But I could not get into this. The main character is so negative and immature and moaned too much. I wanted a light easy, funny read and the part that I read before I gave up just wasn’t that. I didn’t want to invest any more time in it, especially when I read other reviews saying this book is basically about a girl dealing with past trauma which just sounds too heavy for me. Sorry, not for me. DNF at 20%.
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Well where to I start. Holly bourne has done it again. I’ve always loved her books even though they’re YA they’re easy to read and just make sense and this is just that. Absolutely loved it!
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Hmmm.....I've always had a soft spot for Holly Bourne, but this novel just didn't engage me in the same way as her others, and the main character was difficult for me to engage with. I've delayed writing about it because I don't like being negative about an author I usually love, but I found the way it was written somewhat cliched for such an important subject.
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TW: Rape 

April just can't trust men. A sweeping statement but she constantly finds herself getting as far as date 5, thinking she has a real connection with her current love interest, only for her heart to be shattered when she's told she's disillusioned about the situation. April is also a rape survivor, which makes it harder for her to trust men. She loves her job in the charity sector but recent correspondence is triggering April and making her angry. She decides she's had enough and wants revenge. She decides she will be Gretel, 'perfect woman', that cool girl who makes everything seem effortless and glides through life and love without a care in the world. Dating as Gretel will be fun and no one will get hurt this way. Right?

I like Holly Bourne's books usually and while I did enjoy this, I didn't click with it. Maybe it's because I've never been in April's situation as a young woman in the dating scene. April is very frank with her thoughts and she's not an overly likeable character. Which is perfectly fine, she's not meant to be, she's complex which is realistic. If you're expecting a fun, witty light book, this isn't it, which you've probably gleamed considering the traumas of rape is being discussed and April is angry a lot of the time. The book is does have it's humorous moments but it can be very dark at times. If rape is a trigger, then this book is not for you. It can be harrowing but I appreciate Bourne writing about this subject and being very open and honest about how it can effect your life.. There were certain elements to this book I didn't like. For example I didn't like April saying she didn't trust any man, except her work buddy but that's because he's gay, OF COURSE he's gay, all the GOOD men are gay. I get that some people do talk like this and I've found the dialogue in previous Bourne books to be down to earth and not sanitised. However this didn't sit well with me at all. Neither did the fact that April continually seems to put herself through sex when it's not comfortable for her, it may possibly be close to how someone might try to push through their trauma but I hope others don't read this and think that it's the norm to do this or that you have to continue with an act you don't feel comfortable with because you don't want to appear not cool. There are some positives, I liked the group that April joins and the friendships with other survivors that begin to blossom, as well as April starting counselling (even if her loaded friend conveniently pays for it) and the reveal that Joshua is also worried about how things are with Gretel/April (even if it was a bit 'look boys have worries too!'). The book covers important issues but I feel like I prefer Bourne's writing style when she's writing YA books
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Although Pretending by Holly Bourne was a difficult read at times, I was swept away in the imagery and characterisation of this story.  A story of struggle, survival and pretending.  Gripping read and unputdownable.  4 stars
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