Review: It Only Happens In The Movies, Holly Bourne

There are no spoilers in this review.

I have read my share of contemporary romances and I thought I could not be surprised by them anymore. I was wrong.
It only happens in the movies was my first Holly Bourne book and, let me tell you right now, it won’t be my last. Realistic, raw, unique, It only happens in the movies tackled relationships and love in such a REAL way, I couldn’t help but fall in love.



β€œWhat was the point? What is the point in love, and promises of it, when it can just jump from one person to another like that?”

It only happens in the movies takes all of the romance movies you’ve ever watched, all the sweet contemporary books you have ever read and throw them all out the window. Literally. You know, when you read a book or see a movie and just swoon all over, because the love interest is way too adorable, dreamy and everything you want him to be? When somehow, the happy ending will always be waiting, everything will resolve itself and… well, just ALL.THE.SWOON.HAPPENS? This is not this kind of book. It only happens in the movies takes relationships, teenagers, expectations, false ideas, everything we think of romance and every vision we have and get of romantic relationships and, somehow, makes a story way more realistic than I have ever, ever read.



Like in every contemporary, the characters are the shining stars here. Audrey, our main character, is an average teenager trying to mend her broken heart after her boyfriend broke up with her. She’s passionate, fierce, feminist, yet she made her mistakes as well. Pushing away her friends. Closing herself to the outside world a little bit. She’s flawed. She is one character you will end up falling in love with as the story goes on, as she opens herself up again, as she just grows wonderfully.

β€œThe only love affair I needed to invest in right now was one with myself. Spend some time with me. Figuring out myself and why I picked the relationships I did. I was holding out my heart to me. Because I’d realised I was the only person who could give me a happily-ever-after.”

We also get an interesting cast of side characters with their own issues, even if the real shining star here is Audrey, obviously. Harry, the love interest, was pretty well-shaped, with his own insecurities we slowly discover, well-hidden behind his carapace.



β€œLove isn’t just a feeling. Love is a choice too.”

Relationships are not easy. Crushes come and go, feelings build up slowly, surely, there are really awkward moments, everything just does not resolve itself in such a perfect way, sometimes pieces of the puzzle are crooked and can’t quite fit. In It only happens in the movies, Audrey’s relationship with Harry slowly builds up, from meeting each other, first impressions, to growing closer, friends, developing feelings and so on. Audrey just got her heart broken by her ex-boyfriend and is not ready for a relationship. Slowly, her hearts mends itself, slowly, she realizes that she can get back up on her feet, explore a new relationship. NOTHING goes smoothly in this book. There are issues, awkward moments, there is tons of sex positivity and one of the most realistic sex representations I have ever read as well. To be honest, this book just has one of the most realistic teenage relationships I have ever read about and, just for that, you should read it.

Yet, this book wasn’t, somehow, just about a romance. Holly Bourne incorporated family issues in this book, with Audrey’s mother trying to get over her divorce; but she also managed to fit in some great friendships. We get to explore what it is like to grow apart from friends, because of a new relationship, how it’s like to try and gain their trust again, awkwardness and just bonding, sharing and everything else. It’s adorable.



It only happens in the movies is a book I would heavily recommend, to everyone, whether you love contemporaries or not. With a fresh, super-realistic take on teenage relationships, amazing characters you will root for and heart-wrenching moments between Audrey and her mother… It was overall a brilliant book tackling clichΓ©s in romances and delivering instead the realistic romance we all need to read.

Final rating:Β  It’s a hurricane!

Trigger warnings: there is one scene of self-harm that is kind of graphic.

Holly Bourne, It only happens in the movies, Β Published by Usborne Publishing, October 1st, 2017.


Audrey is over romance. Since her parents’ relationship imploded her mother’s been catatonic, so she takes a cinema job to get out of the house. But there she meets wannabe film-maker Harry. Nobody expects Audrey and Harry to fall in love as hard and fast as they do. But that doesn’t mean things are easy. Because real love isn’t like the movies…

The greatest love story ever told doesn’t feature kissing in the snow or racing to airports. It features pain and confusion and hope and wonder and a ban on cheesy clichΓ©s. Oh, and zombies… YA star Holly Bourne tackles real love in this hugely funny and poignant novel.

Did you read It Only Happens In The Movies? Do you want to?

Did you read any other books by Holly Bourne? Which one would you recommend?

Do you also feel like romances are sometimes filled with clichΓ©s and unrealistic? Let me know in comments!

Posted by

Book blogger, travel blogger, writer. πŸ“š |🌍 | πŸ’ž Writing & Communications Graduate. French. Living on love, wanderlust and ya books.

56 thoughts on “Review: It Only Happens In The Movies, Holly Bourne

    I thought that it was so good, especially with how much she grew as a person and jngjngjdngjkdnfgjkfngjkfgjrjgnrj this book was so awkward, and cute and heartbreaking and i really enjoyed it!!
    Great review!


  2. Okay, this sound really good *:* I love raw and realistic stories. I’m gonna keep an attention for the shelf arm but I will not hold back my read for this. I was really curious to read this novel, but I read some disappinted review that made me lees interested it. Your review turned things arpund πŸ˜‰
    I’m curious about Audrey. The way you described makes me think a lot about some parts of myself


    1. Oh this was really good, I hope you will read it Camilla πŸ™‚
      The self-harm was just in one scene, other than that I spotted no particular trigger warning for this. Also, it is a scene you will see coming – I saw it coming as I read on – so you can easily skip it, it wasn’t over a page long πŸ™‚
      I hope you will give this book a chance and love it πŸ™‚ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love Holly Bourne! You should definitely check out more of her books πŸ˜€ I haven’t read this one but it sounds great and I’ll be sure to pick it up!


  4. Oh this sounds like a brilliant book Marie. ❀ I haven't read anything by Holly Bourne yet but I have all her books on my to-read list because I've heard nothing but amazing things about them. I haven't seen any other reviews for It Only Happens in the Movies but I feel like there was a fair bit of hype travelling around for this book so I'm really glad it lives up to that hype. πŸ™‚ I have to say I do love sweet romances and fluffy contemporaries with happy endings but I'm really intrigued to read Holly's take on the real-life side of romance you know? Also Audrey sounds like a brilliant character, surrounded by some great secondary characters, so now I definitely have to pick up this one as well.
    Great review Marie! πŸ˜€ ❀

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I have tried buying digital media from foreign sites, and if they are distributed in the US, they won’t let you buy them. I saw the used paperbacks for sale on Amazon, but physical book and my eyes are not a match made in heaven. You are too sweet, though.


      2. Oh okay… that’s so weird and annoying :/ Well I’ll see this weekend if there is a way for me to send you the file over email? Maybe? If you want, obviously πŸ™‚


  5. This one sounds really good! I love that it’s so realistic and doesn’t try to be like every other contemporary romance where everything is pretty predictable and just generally wishy washy… I mean, we all need a good, fluffy read every once in a while to make us feel swoony but we also need the nitty gritty of relationships and how they sometimes don’t work out the way we planned. It’s all about expectations vs reality.
    It’s awesome that it also includes family issues and friendships. I think overall it looks super well-balanced and a really nice read.
    Fantastic review, Marie! ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YES exactly, it’s all about expectations and reality. Sometimes, we need to read something that feels real and that one was on point. I could relate and just see how the relationship worked in this book, struggling with real-life things and awkwardness and everything. THAT was great πŸ™‚
      Thank you so much, Sophie!! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love your reviews, Marie — it’s so clear that you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the story and crafting your thoughts for reviews 😊 I struggle with finding good contemporary books to read because none of my friends are huge contemporary book readers, but since you’re an experienced contemporary reader, I trust your recommendations 😊 It Only Happens in the Movies sounds like a beautiful contemporary book, and after reading this post… well, I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of this! πŸ˜† Great review, Marie!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow, thank you, Zoie, you are so, SO sweet ❀ ❀
      This makes me VERY happy, contemporaries are my favorite kind of books, so if you ever need any recs, I am here πŸ™‚ I hope you'll be able to get a copy soon! ❀ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I actually just started reading My Lady Jane because of your mini review that you posted — and oh my goodness, it is so much more hilarious than I thought it would be, I love it πŸ˜† If I ever want a good contemporary read but can’t find one, I’ll definitely hop over to your blog to ask you! Thank you, Marie! πŸ˜‹

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ahhhhhh I’m so, SO happy to hear it. It’s so much fun, right? πŸ˜€
        And yes, please come and ask me whenever you want, I’d be happy to give you ALL the recommendations I can πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  7. THIS BOOK SOUNDS LIKE A VV GOOD BOOK. I think i’ve heard of holly bourne before?? ooh yes ok i just looked her up and i’ve heard of some of her contemporaries!! i love how there’s sex positivity and everything seems like it’s kind of raw, and not overly cliche but realistic πŸ™‚ i love books like those ❀ great review!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeeees, she’s a really popular contemporary author I haven’t read until just now. I FAIL at being THE contemporary queen, I am so mad at myself haha.
      YES this one was so realistic when it comes to relationships, the way they build, the way they’re awkward at first, about sex, too. I just loved it! I hope you’ll read it πŸ™‚
      Thank you!! xx

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow. That’s really saying something. I haven’t tried anything by this author but if I’m going to, your review sure did convince me to pick this title up. Plus, the synopsis sounds like something I’d enjoy. So there’s that. And I like the cover, too. Very helpful review, Marie!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This sounds amazing! I love romance novels, but I hate how predictable they are. I always feel bad then a HEA doesn’t happen and I get excited, or when one does happen and I wish it hadn’t. I just get tired of how everything is cookie cutter perfect and no matter what, everything falls into place perfectly at the end, no matter what elements stand in the way. So, this sounds like the perfect read for me. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OH YES, I so understand your feeling here. After a while, everything is predictable and… well, the thrill of reading these kind of books isn’t always here anymore. I was surprised by this one, because it was SO realistic when it comes to relationships and, if you could predict some things, there were others I did not see coming πŸ™‚
      I hope you will read and love this! Thank you for your comment πŸ˜€


  10. I love Holly Bourne’s books! I can’t believe I haven’t read this yet!

    Also, thank you for putting a trigger warning because that’s something that would definitely make me feel quite anxious! .<

    Lovely review! ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohh I hope you will read this one soon, Kyra, and that you will love it πŸ™‚
      You’re welcome – it was just one scene in the book, I couldn’t say how many pages-long it was, as I read it as an ebook, but it wasn’t that long. You can easily see it coming and skip it, I think ❀

      Thank you so much ❀ ❀


  11. Lovely Review as always, Marie 🌸
    This sounds SO interesting; it sounds so fresh and like a completely different take on your everyday romance. I’ve never read anything by Holly Bourne, but I’m always up for something new so I’m definitely adding this to my TBR xx

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I haven’t read this book at myself but what I think I will like the most about this book will be that it is all about realistic romance. I really like the idea because I think romance can really overdue and make it all about unrealistic goals for us to follow. I’m all for the awkward scenes and the realism! Great review and thanks for introducing me to this book x

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    Liked by 1 person

    1. YES, I so agree with you. Sometimes, we end up having expectations that are way too high… because of books and false representations of what relationships can really be like. I think it’s one of the first books where I found a relationship really described as they could be in real life, that’s so refreshing πŸ™‚
      Thank you so much for your sweet comment! ❀ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Such a lovely review, Marie!! ❀ I've seen this book around and now that you've read it too and loved it – I kind of want to do it too! I've been catching up on your blog posts and I feel like my TBR pile grew even more since I started. Why are you doing this to me? I really need to read more realistic romance, I feel most of the romance books I've read were very unrealistic and that is one of the reasons why I stay away from the genre most of the time. But this one sounds absolutely cute. ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wish I could apologize, but… I don’t really want to? I WANT you to read all of these fabulous books, especially this one. It was such a great contemporary and I loved how realistic and relatable the romance was overall ❀
      Hope you will read and love it! And THANK YOU you're the best ❀


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