Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Review: Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler

Title: Bittersweet
Author: Sarah Ockler
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: January 3rd 2012
Pages: 378
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: Bought
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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...
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I'm a huge fan of Sarah Ockler's Twenty Boy Summer and Fixing Delilah, so I was really looking forward to reading Bittersweet. Somehow, though, I didn't end up loving her newest one as much as Sarah Ockler's earlier novels. It was a pretty good read, but it didn't have the same spark as Twenty Boy Summer and Fixing Delilah.

The main reason I didn't love this book as much as I wanted to is the main character, Hudson. I just couldn't connect with her. She's so melodramatic, makes such a big deal out of everything. It annoyed me to no end how she could never make up her mind and blamed herself for everything that went wrong in her life. Yes, I get that Hudson is a realistic 16-year-old girl character, but, well, her behavior is also infuriating, and I just couldn't get past that.

The secondary characters are just okay. Most of them are fully-developed, but I didn't love them like I'd hoped - I just have higher standards for Sarah Ockler. For example, there's the romance storyline, which didn't work for me - so much unnecessary drama! There's a sort of love triangle between Josh and Will, except, well, not really, because it's made obvious from the start that Josh is the one Hudson wants. And Josh is just kind of... meh. He's sweet, but he's too perfect to be realistic, and we don't get to know him well enough. Will is a good character and I liked his backstory, but I didn't get the point of the whole storyline with Will. I can't say too much about this without spoiling anything, but all the drama about the one misunderstanding was unrealistic and completely unnecessary - that's just something you find out about a friend, and I don't see something like that causing so much drama.

The family storyline didn't wow me, either. How Hudson kept blaming herself for her parents' divorce just bugged me. I know it's realistic and kind of the point, but it still frustrated me to no end. And I didn't really get how the family drama made her quit skating - the way it's presented, it just didn't make sense to me. I didn't love the parents' characters, but I guess we weren't supposed to. We were, however, supposed to like Hudson's little brother, Bud, and I guess he is pretty cute. But, to be honest, I thought his whole character was kind of trying too hard to be cute - why do so many YA MCs have such genius younger siblings!? Can't they ever just be normal and annoying!?

And then there's the drama between Hudson and Dani. Dani's a good friend to Hudson most of the time, but I also found their fights kind of melodramatic. I thought it was kind of strange how needy Dani was towards Hudson, always getting mad when Hudson had other plans, since, supposedly, Dani's the one with a social life outside of Hudson.

Despite all this negative stuff, there were a lot of things I loved, too. I'm still a huge fan of Sarah Ockler's writing - even when I didn't love the plot, the beautiful writing carried the rest of the novel, for me. I love the atmosphere Sarah Ockler has created here, with the small town feel and everything related to winter - I just love strong seasonal settings, and this one really made me feel like I was there alongside Hudson, experiencing winter in Watonka. And of course I loved everything relating to cupcakes because, well, cupcakes! Yum. Hudson's experiences as a waitress were fun to read about, too, and I loved the insight we got into Hudson's life as a figure skater, since that's something I know nothing about.

There were a lot of things I loved about Bittersweet, but large parts of the plot and the main character just didn't work for me; it was too predictable, melodramatic, and cliched for me, and I was expecting more from Sarah Ockler. Still, it's a cute read, and Sarah Ockler's writing is still amazing. Bittersweet wasn't my favorite Sarah Ockler novel, but I'll keep reading whatever she writes.


  1. I totally agree with you about the unnecessity of the whole Will story line, completely frustrating. But as a whole a really enjoyed the book.

  2. I'm sorry to hear you didn't like this book as well as the author's other ones. I haven't read any of Sarah Ockler's books so I'll have to check those out! Thanks for your thoughts!

  3. I felt the same way! There was quite a bit of negative things, but I still liked this novel. Great review!


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