Throughout the course of her debut essay collection, Hard to Love, Briallen Hopper contemplates this thorny and capacious emotion from the position of someone whose love life defies traditional conceptions of the term ... You could read Hard to Love as a tender missive to all the relationships American culture has overlooked and deflated ... Hopper’s book is also an argument for a social shift. Friendship is a choice, one that is often adventurous in and of itself and should command the same privileges and respect as any other domestic arrangement ... Hard to Love’s greatest accomplishment is its insistence upon the equality of platonic and non-matrimonial arrangements, not merely because it urges us to recalibrate our perception of kinship—although this is important—but because it disputes the capitalist logic that the institution of marriage so often serves to buttress. Hopper harpoons the archaic, yet sticky notion that marriage is the gold-standard for mutual reliance[.]
Rousing ... Hopper is contributing to a growing body of recent writing (Text Me When You Get Home, The Friendship Cure) and pop culture storylines (Broad City, Insecure) that underscore the depth and significance of female friendships. But Hopper's book feels distinct from and, in some ways, more daring than these ... The strength of her culture essays vary.