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It Only Happens in the Movies

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A clever, deconstructed rom-com that proves that in real life “girl meets boy” doesn't always mean “happily ever after” . . . or does it? At turns funny, feminist, and achingly real, this read is perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella, Patrick Ness, and Julie Buxbaum.

Audrey is over romance. While dealing with her parents’ contentious divorce, a breakup of her own, and shifting friendship dynamics, she has every reason to feel cynical. But then she meets Harry, her fellow coworker at the local cinema. He’s brash, impulsive, and a major flirt. And even though Audrey tries to resist, she finds herself falling for his charms. But in this funny, insightful, and ultimately empowering novel, love—and life—isn’t what it’s like in the movies.

368 pages, Hardcover

First published October 1, 2017

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About the author

Holly Bourne

24 books5,550 followers
Holly started her writing career as a news journalist, where she was nominated for Best Print Journalist of the Year. She then spent six years working as an editor, a relationship advisor, and general ‘agony aunt’ for a youth charity – helping young people with their relationships and mental health.

Inspired by what she saw, she started writing teen fiction, including the best-selling, award-winning ‘Spinster Club’ series which helps educate teenagers about feminism. When she turned thirty, Holly wrote her first adult novel, 'How Do You Like Me Now?', examining the intensified pressures on women once they hit that landmark.

Alongside her writing, Holly has a keen interest in women’s rights and is an advocate for reducing the stigma of mental health problems. She’s helped create online apps that teach young people about sexual consent, works with Women’s Aid to spread awareness of abusive relationships, and runs Rethink’s mental health book club.

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5 stars
6,964 (26%)
4 stars
10,152 (38%)
3 stars
6,750 (25%)
2 stars
1,849 (7%)
1 star
641 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,750 reviews
Profile Image for emma.
1,872 reviews54.8k followers
February 14, 2022
Holly Bourne, where have you been all my life?

A short, by no means definitive list of just some of the literally innumerable awesome things this book contains:
- feminist criticism of romcoms
- a takedown of the bit in The Fault in Our Stars when the characters' steamy makeout happens in the Anne Frank House
- a screaming rant against the line "not like other girls"
- a powerful, badass, damaged heroine who heals herself
- and a bunch of satisfying scenes in which that heroine screams and/or gets hers
- a female character who isn't nice to our female protagonist...without veering into girl hate
- a group of female friends who might seem shallow but are anything but
- a romantic plotline that is secondary to the other aspects of our girl's life
- and a happily ever after, too
- happy fun workplace scenes!! which I am always a sucker for.

Basically, this book is such a revolutionarily good contemporary I might have to come back and five star it.

Bottom line: ?!?!????!?!?!?!?! More please.

tbr review

please....i just want a cute contemporary.......please reading gods let me have this
Profile Image for Haley pham.
75 reviews102k followers
April 29, 2022
3.5 stars. Good book wasn’t speeding through it though. I like the ending she chose
Profile Image for Warda.
1,211 reviews19.7k followers
March 11, 2020
I'm changing my rating to a 5 stars simply because as soon as I woke up this morning, my first thoughts were of this book! I am in love!

The story was about challenging the notion of romantic-comedies or romantic movies in general. How it is not realistic, giving women false sense of security or hope and calling out the misogynistic viewpoints that are ingrained in our society.

This is exactly the type of book young girls should be reading and I love that Holly Bourne always challenges particular notions that are problematic in our society and dissects it, by putting forth real-life situations that we're all familiar with and/or experienced and calling it out.

There is so much more to this story that I rather leave unsaid and for the reader to explore. It's an absolute wonderful story and a worthwhile read!

Initial review!
4.5 stars! What the fuck, man! This book was just brilliant! As per usual and what you can always expect with Holly Bourne's books!
It's nearly 1am, so my brain isn't allowing me to review it right now, but READ THIS BOOK, PEOPLE! It was gloriously messy, raw and heart wrenching, but one of the most realest shit written on relationships!
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.8k followers
April 20, 2020
not my cup of tea. as in not my first drink of choice, but i will drink it if theres nothing else.

i can understand the important message of this story and why things ended the way they did (i would have made the same choice had i been in audreys position), but its not really what i wanted to happen. but maybe thats the whole point - to show that sometimes you dont get the ending you want, but you get the ending you need.

regardless, theres just something that kept me from truly connecting with the story, the writing, and the characters. but the message is a good one, so kudos to HB for that.

3 stars
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,316 reviews44.2k followers
December 15, 2021
Here’s what we have for our literature menu:
Feminism vibes and realistic touch to the sensitive issues like mental health, drug addiction, divorce✅
Smart criticism of romcoms ✅
Witnessing an average heroine’s turning into a badass one who stands for herself including asshole cheating father like a rabbit’s transformation into a roaring lion✅
Good, supportive girl friendship ✅
Positive messages including choosing yourself and learning self acceptance✅

I filled all my check boxes. I always love good written, realistic, powerful, promising books. Even though it is written like a romcom format, romance story line is the secondary.

And I’m not gonna give spoiler but ending may be the most satisfying part of the book.

Audrey was broken heroine after dysfunctional family issues, divorce and being dumbed by boyfriend. But falling hard for coworker Harry was the most unexpected thing for her. That’s the plot line makes you thing this is a sweet romance. But it’s not! It’s about a girl power, learning from mistakes and rising from the ashes kind of motivational book with the background song: Katy Perry’s “Roar”

Fast, easy, enjoyable reading that I highly recommended for the genre lovers and author’s die hard fans!

Special thanks to NetGalley and HMH Books for a Young Readers for sharing this powerful ARC with me in exchange my honest review.
Profile Image for chan ☆.
1,072 reviews51.5k followers
August 14, 2018
i'm just going to eternally scream into the aether about how viscerally satisfying this book was

this story is about what is essentially audrey's senior year of high school (i say essentially cause hoe is british) and the life changes that are happening to her. her father has left her mother for another woman. her brother is away at uni. her ex dumped her pretty savagely. and there's a new guy at work that she's kind of crushing on.

unfortunately, the most satisfying part of this book is also the one that i can't talk about without spoiling the whole thing. what i can say, is that this book is an excellent look at demanding what you deserve. there are so many instances of brilliance in this book that i have more than 5 highlights (unheard of for me) so i can go back and soak up more of the brilliance when life gets me down.

watching audrey navigate life is heartbreaking at times but ultimately, as previously mentioned, satisfying. love is a choice. audrey makes good ones. and hopefully after reading this book you'll make better ones too.
Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,051 reviews1,050 followers
March 8, 2018
4.5 stars

“You can’t help your feelings. But you can choose what to do about them.

I am literally standing up right now, wildly clapping my hands in frenzied adoration and reverence to that most wonderful, powerful conclusion to a supposedly romantic story. Seriously. I could still feel goosebumps all over. Just *sighs*

But wait, did I just say romantic? I guess I did even though the main purpose of the book is to contradict everything about romantic movies. It’s actually a blatant deconstructive analysis of romantic movies proving that real life romance is completely different. Holly Bourne definitely has all the right to say that It Only Happens in the Movies.

Let’s quickly look at some of the points of the novel about the flaws of romantic flicks through actual excerpts from the book:

The female character: “They’re always crazy perfect skinny, even though they’re supposedly always munching down burgers and chocolate.”

The chance encounter: “Everyone is always bumping into everyone. Forget statistical probabilities. Nope. Their love beats mathematics.”

The kiss: “Grand gesture kisses. One where they hire out a baseball field, or stop a party to make a huge speech or something. Essentially kisses where there is applause from random members of the public.”

Ending: “They tend to end way too early. The movie either ends when the couple gets together, or someone dies before you can see the relationship develop.”

Essentially, the story proves how almost every element of romantic movies is unrealistic through Audrey’s personal (firsthand and secondhand) experiences which she actually documents for her thesis. Why had I not thought about this topic for my thesis?

Ms. Holly Bourne is definitely back and I’m a little pissed because she ruined my favorite romantic movies for me. But honestly, her strength as a person and as a writer shines brightly in this novel making me one solid admirer.
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,479 reviews19.5k followers
February 28, 2019
Maybe more of a 3.5? It was mega feminist and I really liked the ending but honestly the plot itself was a little boring. Meh

TW: drug use, depression, divorce
Profile Image for mimi (taylor’s version).
342 reviews280 followers
July 18, 2022
Oh, man.

First things first: this is a romantic story, no matter how much you complain about that. I don't care about the ifs, about what happened or about the freaking bad timing.
THIS IS A ROMANTIC STORY, I'm not crying my heart out for anything.

Is it a great romantic story, like in all those movies everybody knows? Probably not, but it hurt anyway. Because we have to admit it: it hurt, now and before.
I honestly didn't expect that, I'm still a little bit shocked by that.

And I honestly thought the ending would have been different. That ending!
I understand Audrey’s position and I too I’d have probably done the same thing, but still… it hurt. Especially because in every great romantic movie there is this big gesture and, after it, everything gets back to normal; and Harry’s was a big gesture, you can't say the contrary.
But you can't love someone if you don't trust that person anymore.

I feel like this was a big step forward from Holly Bourne’s others books. The subjects are pretty much the same - friendship, love, problems with parents, feminism -, but there is something new and fresh in her narrative style, something better.
While in her other books the stories were just normal - as boring and predictable -, here the normality is a positive thing: Audrey is a normal girl with almost-normal problems, and she falls for Harry, a boy with normal problems; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But it's this normality that makes you love the story even more, as in other great romantic movies - have you ever heard of The Notebook?

Also, the movie choices.
Romeo + Juliet is amazing - 90s Leo will always be my favourite - and When Harry Met Sally is just a classical.
But I can assure you - as an Italian that grew up with romantic movies - Nuovo Cinema Paradiso is one the best movie you can see in your life, and I was astonished when Harry described it as one of the best films ever because no one ever remembers it.

I can’t promise that you'll love every book written by Holly Bourne.
I can't promise that this book will bring joy and a sense of fullness to your life.
But, whatever you're going through, I can promise it’ll be one of those books that make you forget your life for a little bit.

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews157k followers
December 8, 2020

Just published my October Book Vlog and whew! It was a lot of reading but so worth it!
The Written Review
Audrey has sworn off romance - and NO not in a "totally swears it off but is secretly looking for love" - she actually means it.

She's just gone through her first breakup, she's seen her parent's divorce, she's read all the books and watched all the movies.

She knows every possible romance plot there could conceivably be and she says NO to all of them.

When her home life gets a little too much for her, she picks up a part-time job at the local cinema.

There she meets Harry.

And despite herself, she finds his corny jokes, his movie obsessions and his love for life addictive.

One thing leads to another and now she's the star of his feminist zombie flick (the feminist bit was Audrey's idea)...and despite swearing off romances...she can feel a small...small part of herself feeling the romance.

This one worked really, really well.

I love Audrey's take on life and her story was really sweet...and surprisingly realistic!

It was so fun to see how the romantic tropes worked in this one. I feel like so many books focus on "finding love" and this one took that but also made things grounded.

It also poked fun at all the common tropes as part of Audrey's "Research".

I loved how this book showed that not all love was terrible (like the divorce or her first one) but to also know your worth.

The book ends on a really good note - kind of an anti-trope that really fit well.

With thanks to Netgalley. Holly Bourne and HMH Books for Young Readers

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
Profile Image for Beth.
748 reviews576 followers
February 15, 2018
Spoiler Free Review


Trigger Warning: Mental Health, Substance Abuse, possible Self Harm

To begin, I got this in my bookboxclub subscription and for the month of November I've only been reading books from my subscriptions. I've found some really really good reads and this is 1000000% included! Honestly I'm so surprised by how much I enjoyed this.

What I liked so much is how it challenges the representation of romance throughout films (I'm also going to include books as well) and how it's not always perfect and happy. There's such a sense of realism to this book and it is so relatable I was actually amazed!

We get to see the challenges Audrey faces when a relationship breaks down, both hers and her parents, friendships and the after effect this causes. Now I can hold my hands up and say I'm a sucker for romantic films and I mean who wouldn't want what is thrown in front of us with all the declarations of love right? Well this throws it right out of the park and shows us in many ways that's not what we get, life may not be perfect but you deal with things.

Audrey is your average girl, she has a lot going on in her life, she's just broken up with Milo, she doesn't know where she stands with her friends, doesn't really get any support from her dad or brother and we see her life played out over a few months. To begin with I didn't really know what to think of her, she'd pushed her friends away, stopped all the things she once loved and seemed distant. The more the book progressed we could see her "snapping out of it and waking up to reality" I loved things clicking into place for her, she took no shit, none what so ever and I just loved it so much!

Then we have Harry, he works with Audrey at an upscale cinema, loves to film and is completely charming. I don't tend to like these types of characters, but for some reason it was hard to dislike him as a character. However at times he seemed to put on a facade and was a bit too much. His obsession with filming was endearing and he had a good group of friends (minus one).

What I liked?
- I LOVE Audreys friends, I feel like we all need them friends, I think at times we tend to move away from people, but it's always refreshing to see that just because something happens you've still got friends support.
- This is literally one of the best representations of sex I've seen in a book. The way characters in this book deal with it are SO well done, not only boyfriends but friends offering support. AMAZING
- Audrey standing up to her dad... he's the definition of a dick, and that's putting it nicely.

What I didn't like?
- What happened with Harrys parents?! I don't think we ever found out?

Overall, I LOVED THIS BOOK! I can't praise it enough, this is my first Holly Bourne book I've read, but if her other books are like this, sign me up!

P.S - That ending was INCREDIBLE! I was cheering on Audrey!
Profile Image for kate.
1,227 reviews949 followers
April 15, 2018
3.5* There’s no denying my love for Holly Bournes writing style, it’s incredibly easy and comfortable to read. The way she writes feminism into her books is always a winner and her humour is so brilliantly British. I’m also always all for anything to do with movies in books, so the concept for this book instantly had me hooked and I expected to adore it. However, I didn’t love this as much as I’d anticipated and to be honest, I can’t quite put my finger on why just yet. I didn’t totally warm to or care all that much for the characters (although I may just be holding them up to the standards of Holly Bournes spinster trilogy characters, who I adored) and I had a few issues with the language used at times. With that being said, it was most definitely an enjoyable read and one I’m glad I picked up.
Profile Image for Vee_Bookish.
1,475 reviews357 followers
May 4, 2022
I should already know that if a contemporary romance book (if this can be even considered that) is over 400 pages long, I'm not going to be in for a good time. This book was torture, with slut shaming and problematic ideas of consent, with sex scenes that were bordering on assault that a little too graphic for me, as I prefer my YA Contemporary Romances to be fluffier.

I liked Audrey and Harry's relationship while they were working at the cinema. They were really cute together, lots of playful banter and it was easy to see them as a couple. However, their relationship outside of the cinema didn't work, with Harry being either full on or distant with no in-between, constantly hanging out with his friends, getting wasted and smoking weed.

Harry himself is a very complex, very frustrating character. It's said by Audrey's friends that he had a relationship with a girl that goes to his church, it didn't work out for mysterious reasons, and later that he's separated from his religious parents for other mysterious reasons. Even though we're given 400 pages for this to be explained, if it was I zoned out, because I don't think this was ever cleared up.

The next few lines are spoilers for the end of the book, but I can't in good conscience not mention something that is so deeply problematic to me: Audrey and Harry's relationship is very off again, on again, and what finally kills it is when she found out that he got a blow job by a girl Audrey was jealous of, and they split up. The issue here is that Harry was (again), wasted, so he was unable to consent? I am not here for that.
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,406 reviews11.6k followers
December 7, 2020
A few months ago, I wrote in my review of Love Is For Losers that every year I comb through a ton of YA looking for a specific type of humor and voice, but end up finding, on average, only two books a years that perfectly fit my reading taste. So, in 2020, It Only Happens in the Movies is the second such novel, and, naturally, I enjoyed it.

I wouldn't say this novel breaks some new ground, it is a traditional contemporary YA story - Audrey is not really romantically inclined at the beginning of this novel - her parents are divorced, her mother is a mess, and Audrey herself has just been dump by her boyfriend, she is flailing at school, she had to quit her drama class, well, her life is a disaster. Her only diversion is her new job at an indie movie theater. Of course, there she meets a guy, who is totally bad news...

While the plot is, you know, what it is, Holly Bourne does add some color and flavor to is. I, obviously, liked the humor (British humor is my thing), but I also liked the infusion of feminism, the examination of romance movies, and, last but not least, I enjoyed watching Audrey's relationship with a "bad boy," or a "fuckboy," as she astutely calls him. I think the book portrays him quite well, his appeal (charm, mixed in with him being total crap) is clear. I liked that, and the ending of this story rules.

I will read this book again, no doubt about it.
Profile Image for Kate (beautifulbookland).
372 reviews117 followers
April 7, 2018
So I’m gonna be brutally honest and say that this book right here was a cover buy, for the simple fact that I didn’t have very many yellow books for my Bookstagram rainbow pictures and it was low-key stressing me out.

I’m happy to announce, though, that It Only Happens in the Movies was delightful, and my cover buy paid off. And now I have yellow books to use in my pictures, so it’s a win all round really.

Not only does Audrey have a pretty difficult home life (thanks to her dad for leaving their family for another woman, who was pregnant with his kids), she’s also suffering from heartbreak after her then-boyfriend dumped her one week after their failed sexual encounter. Audrey is embarrassed and bitter and swears off boys - especially boys like Harry, who just scream trouble, and who have the ability to break her already fragile heart. But can you really choose who to love?

I think the thing that I like the most about this book is how much it makes you think. It challenges the many clichés that you find in romance films, from the bad boy turned good, to dramatic kisses and The Big Obstacle at the end that tests their relationship. I loved how Holly dedicated different parts of the story to different clichés and explored them.

Audrey is also a really good main character - her feelings are complex and often conflicting, and they’re so totally real. Her worries about her body and her feelings are real, and are things that are often glossed over or sugar coated in many films and books. I liked how, after her failed attempt at sex with her ex, sleeping with Harry didn’t suddenly make singing angels descend from the heavens, blow Audrey’s mind and making her a Changed Woman. Sure, she liked sex, but it wasn’t life changing; it didn’t complete her.

I also really enjoyed Holly’s humour in this book. I have no idea why, as an English gal, I often find YA books set in England slightly cringey and childish. Honestly, I don’t know either, it’s really irritating. But Holly’s writing is witty and addictive, and I loved it.

I think the only thing I wasn’t crazy about in It Only Happens in the Movies (apart from Rosie, who I would like to drop kick off a cliff) was the ending. And even then, I can appreciate the fact that it was a good way to end, and I like the fact that Audrey doesn’t put up with any shit and knows that she needs to protect her own feelings. BUT, I am a huge lover of happily ever afters, and I’m a huge romantic; I read books to escape real life, to experience a shit ton of happily ever afters, so while I can appreciate how relevant the ending was to the book, it still made me sad.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,487 reviews7,790 followers
February 10, 2021
Oh romances. Everyone is familiar with the most popular ones, right????

(Figured I better use BOTH Mr. Darcys in case someone wanted to come at me for picking the wrong one)

Well forget everything you ever knew about them . . . .

Audrey is most definitely anti-romance ever since her dad started a new family with the woman he had been cheating on her mother with, her mom went a bit mental and her boyfriend dumped her only to immediately start going out with a new girl. For her final class project, Audrey plans on proving that “romance films ruin people’s real-life relationships. They offer this idea of love that isn’t sustainable in normal life.” Now, if only she can resist the charms of her new co-worker and apparent resident fuckboy, Harry.

This was a breath of fresh air. It gave solid information regarding dating, love, sex, consent, etc. without ever getting preachy (or without something superbadawful having happened to the leading lady). It also gave an ending that is definitely not a popular option and will probably be unliked by many readers, but I thought it was great. I’m giving this nearly all the Stars and if NetFlix optioned it for a movie, my old ass would watch it 100 times.
Profile Image for Jada.
98 reviews45 followers
August 10, 2018
Now chances are if you would describe yourself as a YA fan in 2018, you’ve heard of Holly Bourne. Maybe you haven’t read her, but you’ve heard all about this contemporary, feminist goddess, right?
I was the same. Years ago, I bought the ebook of Soulmates and… I can’t remember exactly why it wasn’t for me, I think I just didn’t find it authentic. I remember something about literal sparks at a kind of gross concert venue but it’s been years so I won’t pretend I’m certain on it. After that book, I decided I wasn’t a fan of Miss Bourne. However as years have gone by, she’s grown so much more popular. I’ve had girls who enjoy books I quite love (you can click here to see those) also really love Holly’s books. So I thought, why not give her another chance?
I gave her another chance with Floored (for more of my thoughts on that click here) and well, I wasn’t exactly impressed but I wasn’t completely put off. So I picked up It Only Happens in the Movies.
Well, well, well.
I’ll start with what I liked in the book. Also here is your heads up that there are going to be so many spoilers, but isn’t there always with 1 star reviews? So I liked that Audrey didn’t swoon at “you’re not like other girls”. I liked that morning breath, sexual encounters and periods weren’t shied away from. I liked that she recognised some of her silly behaviours and rectified them. The sex talk with her friend was great, that felt like an actual conversation people actually have.
Okay. Now onto everything else I felt.
One thing that really, really bugged me that was appearing at least once a chapter was THE UNNECESSARY CAPITAL LETTERS, EXCLAMATION MARKS AND ITALICS EXIST FOR A REASON. This to me just made the book feel a little more like fan fiction than something I bought from Waterstones with my actual money. I also noticed there is actually a point where she uses two exclamation marks in a row. Like this!! And that bothered me a little too, because how did nobody pick up on this? I totally understand mistakes like that slipping through. I totally understand excessive punctuation in texts and social media and hey even reviews, but in a published novel? Not so cool.
The quote that opens up the novel is one by ‘Audrey’. So actually one by Holly. That made me a little uncomfortable because to me it came off as a little overconfident, a little cocky. But hey, whatever floats your boat.
For the first half of the book Audrey completely disregards all of her female friendships, and only likes people who are mean to other people. I completely get not liking that your ex found a new girl; but that shouldn’t mean we tear her down? What did she do wrong? Someone you did six months ago? Yes, it can hurt if they move on first. But I don’t think that justifies being happy when she gets insulted for no reason when she’s actually being pretty decent and friendly. And I really don’t think you can get away with hating your ex’s new girlfriend whilst hanging out with a guy you like and his ex girlfriend and being weird about her not being your biggest fan.
Audrey essentially waltzes in, takes Rosie’s role in a zombie movie and constantly flirts with her on-again-off-again ex-boyfriend. But at no point does she acknowledge maybe she’s not being the nicest herself. Rosie actually gets upset with Harry for disregarding their sacred zombie rules to impress a girl he just met and Audrey decides that she definitely doesn’t like Rosie for pointing out the obvious.
Audrey also has no respect for her stepmother. Again, yes, it makes sense to be upset. Your father left you and your mother for a woman he’d been having an affair with and they now have children. Yes, he’s making your mother sell the house to help finance his new family. But also that was agreed to in the divorce… Why are we so angry with The Other Woman? It’s not great that she started something up with a married man, sure. But I would say it is far worse for the married man to seek out a relationship with another woman. I don’t think she deserves to have a teenage girl show up at her house in the middle of the night and shout abuse at her, including calling her a home wrecking whore. What kind of example is this book setting to young girls? Jessie (the stepmother) is called a bitch, a slut, a home wrecking whore and generally disrespected throughout the book and at no point does Audrey stop and think, hmm, what I’m doing is actually quite horrible. No, her mum takes part in the abuse and only the ‘awful father’ defends Jessie. But as a character we’re positioned not to like, that’s kind of giving teenagers the thumbs up to be so disrespectful to adult women in their lives and to slut shame ‘The Other Woman’.
There’s also a rant that takes up at least a page on a half describing why romance movies are dangerous (which I totally think they can be, they set unrealistic ideals and there’s often an underrepresentation of real relationships on screen. I actually did some work on this for my Media Studies A level project, but I’ll get to that) and then details these girls that aren’t real. Except, girls like that do exist. There are plenty of girls who eat burgers and are still thin, there are girls who desperately want to gain weight but remain tiny no matter how much they eat, there are girls who like wearing matching underwear, girls who are clumsy, girls who are neat. Some girls do like cute pyjamas and are one of the guys. There are girls who have cellulite in all shapes and sizes and what is with this obsession with having sex with the lights off? You don’t have to hide your body when you’re having sex. You can have sex however you like as long as it’s between consenting people of legal sex age in wherever you are. (More on this later.) But why do we have this obsession with denying these ‘perfect’ girls exist? Who is this actually uplifting? I think this was put in to have young girls who aren’t comfortable in their skin to feel better about themselves - but it feels like we’re putting other girls down to do it. As a girl who actually really quite enjoys wearing matching underwear (I find it empowering, I like the feeling it gives me and I like having that little secret underneath my clothes) I can guarantee we do not care what underwear you’re wearing, if it matches, where it’s from, I do not care. I don’t care what you sleep in or what you eat or how big your thigh is, nobody who cares about you is going to unless it’s regarding your health. I just don’t like this comparison thing at all, because I feel like it’s causing an unnecessary competition between girls and we don’t need that.
I also want to acknowledge how Audrey yells about how she’s DAMAGED and emotionally traumatised and not CUTE. I don’t understand why you can’t be all of those things? Because aren’t we as three dimensional people a variety of contradicting attributes which create us? There are girls out there who are so sexy it’s hard to look at for too long without drooling a little with mean faces who study Actuarial Mathematics and spend hours babysitting their younger sisters and are truly lovely people. We can pretend we wouldn’t make assumptions on each of those little attributes I’ve just made, but chances are you wouldn’t have combined each of those qualities and decided that was one girl.
Audrey seems to have a distaste towards sexy girls. I do not know why. I do not understand it. Why is it bad to embrace your sexuality and sensuality? What does that take away from?
Audrey questions if she has any honour left to protect because she maybe lost her virginity. This upset me because why are we viewing the act of sex as something that takes away from who we are? I don’t think your honour has any correlation with how many times you’ve been penetrated or how many different things you’ve been penetrated with or any of this nonsense. Virginity is just an idea we seem hung up on. It shouldn’t be this be all end all.
I just want to point out here that this is supposedly a feminist character? By this great feminist author. I personally am having a little bit of difficulty seeing this.

But now I want to paint a picture.


I didn’t like the attitude surrounding drugs. Audrey was disgusted, Rosie was mocking because she didn’t like it. That doesn’t happen in real life. If you don’t like drugs, that’s fine, don’t do them. If you do like drugs, that is none of our business. Don’t pressure someone into doing things the way you prefer. I have never been pressured into taking drugs ever. I don’t know anybody who has. People tend to respect your wishes if you say no.
I also think the A2 Media Studies project was poorly researched. I was on this course just over a year ago. There is a project that you get a lot of freedom with. However it must be on one certain area of the media so not to conflict with the exam and also not to run your teacher too thin as they need to teach theories that can be applied to everyone’s project and talk everyone through how to make the digital pieces to go alongside their essays (we did DVD covers and posters). It is not fair to expect a teacher to juggle thirty different projects that are all so vastly different, there must be some boundaries.

There’s more I could say but I’m almost at 2000 words so I’m going to leave it here. I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone, but I am curious to see why people love it so much if anyone wants to share that with me.

Profile Image for Patricia Crowther.
479 reviews45 followers
October 1, 2017
I really liked how this showed 'real' relationships. How difficult and messy and just downright awful they can be. Exactly the bits we don't see in the movies or in a novel even. I completely agreed with many of the points raised, particularly about those using social media to shout about how wonderful their relationship is. Which is a major pet peeve of mine. Who are they even trying to convince?

Anyway, overall I thought it was a great reflection on all things relationship, first love, betrayal and the strength of friendship. It was a little cliche, but in a positive feminist way!
Profile Image for Sehar.
31 reviews54 followers
June 7, 2021
This book was just fine. I didn't really enjoy reading it. I just couldn't connect with the story and the characters. There were many things which were problematic.

I was really annoyed by the author continously denouncing the clichés in movies, and then using the same clichés, isn't it contradicting? The ending was nice, but I didn't like the rest of the book.

Audrey can't forgive Harry beacuse she says he hurt her by cheating on her. What was Harry's fault in this?
He was too drunk. He was wasted, and didn't give consent to Rosie, wouldn't it be counted as sexual assault?
But Audrey just says "He chose to drink so much that night. He chose to betray me." Why was it treated like it was all Harry's fault? What if we flipped the genders? Would we still blame the victim?
Profile Image for Alice-Elizabeth (Prolific Reader Alice).
1,157 reviews161 followers
September 7, 2018
A romance set in a Cinema? Um, heck yes!

Audrey is tired of romance movies after her parents dealing with their messy divorce. In her final year of studies before going to Uni, she lives alone with her Mum who is mentally struggling to cope with all of the stress. To save some money up, Audrey finds work at a local cinema and meets Harry who loves making his movies. Both have some hidden secrets of their own that over time, start to be revealed as important life decisions have to be made... The pacing was quite slow, there were moments where I didn't like Audrey and Harry as characters. Some actions taken by Audrey were a little melodramatic for me. This contemporary was not an easy read, therefore I won't be re-reading this one!
Profile Image for Jasmine.
728 reviews12 followers
July 19, 2018
1.5 stars
DNF @ 60%

This had so much potential. So, so, so much potential. But I couldn't stand this. Audrey was a character who at first I really liked and I really wanted to see her development and growth but this just got so, so annoying that I couldn't really stand her after a while. At first I was so happy that yay here was a character who told off Harry for the line he used. "You're not like other girls are you?" Or something like that and I was happy with the way she responded but I wasn't happy with the way she fell for Harry so quickly. Insta-love much?

The moment he stops flirting....she can't stop thinking about him- are you kidding me?! SERIOUSLY! I'm sorry but I felt like there was more important stuff that she should have worried about. The whole plot-line regarding her family life or her friendship was much better because hello they are more important than a boy who she hardly knows. Her family and friends are people she knows and that play/ have played a significant part in her life. NOT HARRY.

Plus, I'm not happy with the whole Harry thing at all- can you tell? He felt so, so, so fake. He was irritating and I couldn't stand the fact that

Overall, this was very disappointing and I just couldn't stand to finish this. Honestly....I don't get why people like this. I didn't like this at all.
Profile Image for EmBibliophile.
534 reviews1,362 followers
April 8, 2019
4.25 ‘true romance’ stars

Why love is never like the movies?

So apparently love and romance aren’t like the movies! Surprise surprise!!
Ladies and gentlemen welcome to the book that deal with true life romance, with all its highs and lows. Without sugarcoating it. Without showing you the happy fluffy side of things only. This book show you true life romance. It shows you how to choose yourself, to love yourself first. Something many girls would relate to.

Because you always leave a little piece of your heart in whoever you fall in love with

I loved the idea of the book. The representation of love and real life romance. I loved the representation of realistic feminism. I loved Audrey and supported her choices. Her character development was amazing. I loved that this wasn’t a cliche’ cheesy romance, it wasn’t like that at all. I loved how the author seemed to analyze every part of romantic movies and compare them to reality. To what actually happen in real life. And that ending tho.....
This book was so satisfying!

Because what I’d learned was, love isn’t just a feeling. Love is a choice too. And you may not be able to help your feelings, but you’re responsible for the choices you make about what to do with them.

Song recommendation:

Ordinary people by John legend
It must have been love by Roxette
*out of curiosity; what’s your favorite romantic movie song?!! X
Profile Image for Nina.
793 reviews284 followers
June 30, 2019
It Only Happens in the Movies was such a fun read and I really enjoyed the book. Especially the ending was a part I really liked as it was quite surprising but fit the story very well.

Overall, this was a perfect summer read and I definitely can't wait to read more books by Holly Bourne in the future.

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Profile Image for Amina .
406 reviews234 followers
March 3, 2023
✰ 3.5 stars ✰

“That was the moment a piece of my heart broke off and got thrown into his, where it would lodge for ever. Because you always leave a little piece of your heart in whoever you fall in love with.”

If I were to describe the story of It Only Happens in the Movies it would be that it's a unflinching raw truthful look at 'Why love is never like the movies'. Audrey is a character that was very real, very believable and someone I very much empathized with. But, while I was reading it, I felt that Holly Bourne was so determined to counter the entire rom-com movies system, that storylines and characters didn't get their due justice.

I understand that this story is primarily about how women should not be so fixated on the happy ever after that happens in romantic comedies. Heck, even I'm very much cynical about them and pretty much agreed with the entire break-down of the romcom directive. But...reading is an escape for me - it's for me to forget about the pains of my own life, the burdens that I may be trying to avoid, and find the happiness of love with characters that I let into my life. So, with that in mind, this wasn't entirely the best choice for me.

Audrey's life story was a very real one - I felt for her and very much understood how everything in her life had led her to think and act the way that she did. Harry - I think that Ms.Bourne was so fixated on proving a point that romance in real life is not like the movies that his character didn't get the justice it deserved. We never really found out what was the reason behind his disagreement with his parents - even his montage film - as much as I didn't buy it, I don't think it was fair, for it to end...just at that point. The ending, to me, felt very rushed and honestly, a little bit unsatisfactory. I respect the message - but, maybe I just don't agree with it. 🤷

“Because they're full of unhelpful lies. Romance films ruin people’s real-life relationships. They offer this idea of love that isn’t sustainable in normal life. It’s dan…” I was about to say “dangerous” before I looked up to see literally the whole class listening in. My fists clenched. I reached for a lesser word. “It’s…pathetic?”

I grew up in the 90s, where there was such a peak of romance films and romantic comedies. And I miss that - times have changed, for sure, but there was a beauty and spark to them that we will never get back. And even if I agree with Audrey's break-down of them, doesn't mean I still don't enjoy them. Because we all need something to escape to and believe in - maybe that's not very feminist of me, but maybe that's just the hopeless romantic in me. 💕💕
Profile Image for Glire.
745 reviews529 followers
December 14, 2017
Escritura brillante, una trama original que se burla con cinismo de las películas románticas, y un final inesperado hacen de este uno de los mejores YA contemporaneos que he leído. Me reí, me angustié y casi lloré. TIENEN QUE LEERLO.
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