13547098Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler
Release Date: January 3, 2012
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Once upon a time, Hudson knew exactly what her future looked like. Then a betrayal changed her life, and knocked her dreams to the ground. Now she’s a girl who doesn’t believe in second chances… a girl who stays under the radar by baking cupcakes at her mom’s diner and obsessing over what might have been.

So when things start looking up and she has another shot at her dreams, Hudson is equal parts hopeful and terrified. Of course, this is also the moment a cute, sweet guy walks into her life… and starts serving up some seriously mixed signals. She’s got a lot on her plate, and for a girl who’s been burned before, risking it all is easier said than done.

It’s time for Hudson to ask herself what she really wants, and how much she’s willing to sacrifice to get it. Because in a place where opportunities are fleeting, she knows this chance may very well be her last…  – Goodreads

Review:

My first Sarah Ockler book did not work out for me well for various reasons, but after seeing how many of my friends enjoyed Bittersweet I was willing to give her a second chance. What I was not expecting was Bittersweet to start out with a C-Cup lacy bra that did not belong to Hudson, or her mother, or how much pain I would feel because Hudson, in the middle of an ice-skating competition was dying. Not literally, but she caught her father cheating and her family is breaking apart.

Three years later, Hudson has left competitive skating and is making custom made cupcakes for her mother. She’s harder though, she’s not the girl she was in the prologue. Through bits and pieces of information we learn what has happened to her parents. They got divorced (obviously), her mom went through a deep depression (but is better now!), her father moved to Las Vegas (and is currently with lady of the month as Hudson tells us). Life isn’t exactly easy for Hudson, her mom, and her family, but it is what it is and she’s accepted her new..harder life. Because of this, the last thing Hudson expects is a letter in the mail telling her about a competition. She wants to stay the “cupcake queen” and behind the counter, but not everything works out how you want it to and Bittersweet shows that.

My heart went out for Hudson throughout Bittersweet. As a fully formed, flawed teen girl, I couldn’t help but want to hug her. She isn’t sure who she is supposed to be. Is she the Hudson that her family and friends expect her to be, or the one she wants to be. Does she let go of the past or hold on to it a little more? Does she speak up? Or just hide behind the counter making cupcakes? Of course there are no obvious answers because Hudson has to do her growth herself.

What she also didn’t expect was Josh to collide with her on the ice and start talking to her. Because she’s Hudson and she stays behind the counter. Hudson’s BFF, Dani, however won’t let Hudson get away with this. In part because she reads a lot of paperback romances and wants Hudson to be happy. My heart went out to Hudson a lot, because Hudson just wants to survive. She wants to survive high school, and her job and she really wants her mom to get out of as much debt as she is currently in. It’s honestly impressive that Hudson is able to keep her shit together as long as she did. I would have lost it probably on page one.

Through helping the high school hockey team, we see more about Hudson and the adorable Josh and how they work together. What was unexpected was how Will was also featured throughout the book, which shouldn’t have shocked me as Will is co-captain of the hockey team and Ockler was able to write a realistic story where things aren’t as neat and straight forward as you expect them to be. Because the mundane that so many authors fear writing about are the little, realistic things that are relate-able.

While I enjoyed Hudson’s growth throughout the novel, high school, trying to fit in, family, trying to fit in, herself, and trying to be comfortable in her own skin. Of course, because I am predictable, I loved the love story. It was flawed, painful, but it was real and I loved it. What I loved more than the love story was the friendship aspect of the novel. I am very into teenage girl friendships and this was so authentic to me. It wasn’t perfect, and it was often painful when they had their first blow up of the friendship because I wanted them to be back to having each other’s back and enjoying each other. But Dani sees that Hudson is spreading herself far too thin and wants Hudson back. Hudson though has begun to question, if she hadn’t found that bra a few years ago, where would her life be? Would she still have ended up there? Was it worth putting them all second?

The amount of growth and feels that I felt in this novel was honestly amazing. I enjoyed this book so much. Also, Ockler, you’re so hilariously funny with your book chapter titles with delicious cupcakes that I cannot eat because it is in a book and not in front of me.