Hard to Love: Book summary and reviews of Hard to Love by Briallen Hopper

Hard to Love

Essays and Confessions

by Briallen Hopper

Hard to Love by Briallen Hopper X
Hard to Love by Briallen Hopper
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2019
    336 pages
    Genre: Short Stories/Essays

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Book Summary

A sharp and entertaining essay collection about the importance of multiple forms of love and friendship in a world designed for couples, from a laser-precise new voice.

Sometimes it seems like there are two American creeds, self-reliance and marriage, and neither of them is mine. I experience myself as someone formed and sustained by others' love and patience, by student loans and stipends, by the kindness of strangers.

Briallen Hopper's Hard to Love honors the categories of loves and relationships beyond marriage, the ones that are often treated as invisible or seen as secondary - friendships, kinship with adult siblings, care teams that form in times of illness, or various alternative family formations. She also values difficult and amorphous loves like loving a challenging job or inanimate objects that can't love you back. She draws from personal experience, sharing stories about her loving but combative family, the fiercely independent Emerson scholar who pushed her away, and the friends who have become her invented or found family; pop culture touchstones like the Women's March, John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, and the timeless series Cheers; and the work of writers like Joan Didion, Gwendolyn Brooks, Flannery O'Connor, and Herman Melville (Moby-Dick like you've never seen it!).

Hard to Love pays homage and attention to unlikely friends and lovers both real and fictional. It is a series of love letters to the meaningful, if underappreciated, forms of intimacy and community that are tricky, tangled, and tough, but ultimately sustaining.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Hopper's essays seem like love songs ... delicate, thoughtful elegies to friendship, compassion, and grace. A fresh, well-crafted collection." - Kirkus

"A smart group of essays on contemporary relationships. A literature scholar, Hopper cultivates a voice that is sophisticated and analytical, but also earnest and eager, and her strongest essays balance these qualities." - Publishers Weekly

"Smart and studied reflections on the power of friendship ... While families are bound by blood and couples often by the law of marriage, the bonds of friendship expand and contract over time. Hopper fervently embraces this and the rich intimacies it affords." - Booklist

"I adored Briallen Hopper's Hard To Love and its miraculous intermingling of revelatory criticism and soulful memoir...In its excesses of tenderness, intelligence, and pleasure, this book brilliantly puts the lie to the idea that a single life is less full - or less complicated - than a coupled one." - Alice Bolin, author of Dead Girls: Essays On Surviving An American Obsession

"Our culture often tells us we have two options: coupled and loved, or alone and unloved. Briallen Hopper posits a third option: uncoupled but very much loved and loving. Gently but firmly, these essays refute our binary assumptions by teasing out the satisfying complexities that lie between and beyond the old poles. Rarely has friendship been more articulately defended." -Anne Fadiman, author of The Wine Lover;s Daughter and The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down

"The best essay collection I've read in ages...In her nuanced exploration of the delights and limits of found families, she's earned a place as the poet laureate of single womanhood." - Ada Calhoun, author ofWedding Toasts I'll Never Give

"Imagine idling obediently at an intersection only to have some passerby tap on your window and point out that there is no traffic light. In Hard to Love, Briallen Hopper shows us there isn't even a stop sign. With intrepid imagination, Hopper conjures a world beyond our most imperious cultural assumptions, a world beyond obedience. What are we waiting for? Read this book." - Gregory Pardlo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Digest and Air Traffic

The information about Hard to Love shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Author Information

Briallen Hopper

Briallen Hopper writes about pop culture, religion, politics, friends, family, and herself for New York Magazine, Los Angeles Review of Books, the New Republic, the New Inquiry, Avidly, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and Killing the Buddha, among many others. Her essays have been cited or recommended by sources like the New York Times, the Rumpus, Flavorwire, Longreads.com, and Slate. She has a PhD in American literature from Princeton and teaches writing at Yale.

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