Author: Sarah Ockler
Release Date: January 2012
Published By: Simon Pulse
Goodreads Rating: 4.18 stars
Review: Hudson once knew what her future was going to be, what with her extraordinary ice skating skills, but all her dreams shattered after a shocking betrayal. Now she stays under the radar, baking cupcakes for her mom's diner and obsessing over what could have been. But all of a sudden, things are looking up and she just might have a second shot. That is, if she's willing to sacrifice everything for her last chance...
From Sarah Ockler comes yet again another phenomenal novel, BITTERSWEET. I loved her earlier books, and this one is no exception. Hudson struggles so hard to reach her dreams, even when she's plagued by self-doubt and incredible obstacles, and this story drew so many emotions from me. It's funny, sad, sweet, and did I mention the cupcakes? Because there are a lot of cupcakes. And boys. Did I mention boys?
But even apart from the cupcakes and boys, I love that this book contradicts so many clichés in young adult fiction. I can't count how many books I've read where all the protagonist wants is to escape her tiny town and go to the city and be rich and famous and have everything she could have ever desired. And I mean, there's nothing wrong with this plot device, and I've seen it work really well, but I appreciated that the author didn't choose to go in this direction. Instead, Hudson came to realize that, well, her 'tiny town' isn't so bad and she doesn't have to run away to be happy.
The whole infamous love triangle device was also contradicted here as well. There certainly was a triangle, what with Will and Josh, but it didn't grate on my nerves as love triangles tend to do. It actually felt like a natural conundrum here, without any despicable cheating or anything going on. The only issue is that I absolutely disagree with who she ended up with, though that's more personal preference than anything.
More than just a great plot, BITTERSWEET also has a fantastic cast of characters. Hudson is smart, strong, and hard-working, and I love her family. Her mom is somewhat tired and over-worked, but she plays a big role in the story and you can tell she really cares about Hudson. My favorite character, though, would have to be Bug, Hudson's super-adorable, wise-beyond-his-years little brother.
All in all, BITTERSWEET is a story that combines both serious struggles with light-hearted fun, and it's one that makes me anticipate more novels from the author. From the lovely characters to the emotional plot to the different spin on typical YA clichés, this is a book I would recommend to any fan of contemporary fiction.
I received a free copy of this book for review. This in no way affected my review.