Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler
Published January 3, 2012 by Simon Pulse
Hardcover, 378 pages
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...
Well, hello there, Sarah Ockler. That name first showed up on my radar last year when a childless local professor decided her first novel, Twenty Boy Summer, wasn’t suitable for teenagers. Despite the public and national outcry, it was temporarily banned in the area, only to be brought back into libraries a few months later under strict conditions. That was enough to convince me to read her books, but sadly Bittersweet is the first I’ve gotten around to. It definitely makes me want to read more from her.
Hudson was an interesting character to read about, with realistic flaws. She had a great sense of humor and I found myself smiling on numerous occasions, just by simple ways she described certain scenes or thoughts of her own. She did make me want to shake her a few times in the second half of the book, but not to the point it took away from the story. Her little brother Bug, her best friend Dani, and pretty much the entire hockey team were fun to read about.
It did border on love-triangle-ish, but ultimately, I didn’t see it as a triangle. Just a girl trying to figure out who she is and what she wants out of life, bonding with a couple of boys who are realistically teen. I tend to get tired of the characters who fall so head over heels in love with the female protagonist that they turn into the picture perfect guy that will cherish her and love her foreva. It’s cute, it can be endearing, but it isn’t realistic. I think Bittersweet does a great job with depicting teenagers as they explore life and grow. It reminded me a lot of Sarah Dessen’s writing, and I am a big fan of hers.
I wasn’t completely blown away by the plot. I did enjoy the scenes in the diner and of course the budding romance, but I’ve never been a big fan of hockey or ice skating, so these aspects didn’t really catch my attention. I had the urge to skim when there was a game involved, or when Hudson was skating. Just not my thing.
Overall, Bittersweet was a cute and fun read, and it has definitely made me want to read more from Ockler. With engaging characters, rich settings, lessons learned, and subtle romance—this is my kind of contemporary.