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….
OPINION: 5 STARS
The Short Version:
Both emotional and hilarious, Bittersweet is a gentle romance that perfectly weaves in several stunning elements. With a main character who is a little broken, but also very witty and fun, and a small but well rounded cast, readers will fall in love with their stories fast. Vivid and noticeable in voice without coming across as trying too hard, and boldly built in setting and playout, Bittersweet will warm hearts.
The Extended Version:
Hudson is an amazingly done character, a bit of a mess and harboring a lot of guilt over everything that’s happened. Taking on everything that’s thrown at her, and not so much resentful as just downtrodden and aware that it’s not quite normal or fair to have so much responsibility, she is an easy to like character. As things progress, Hudson’s behavior is sometimes less than stellar, morphing into selfish and even jerk territory, yet every time, her reasons for it and emotional reactions that incite it come across clearly and poignantly. Her overall development is absolutely stunning, taking dips here and there while still working towards something different in the end as well. From her awkwardness around guys, to her pain over one friend and her growing troubles with another, there is a very teenage and beautiful element to Hudson, yet a range of readers of different ages will love her.
Josh is sweet and gentle, perceptive and caring. There when she needs him, but also not completely willing to be a doormat, Josh is both endearing and quietly charming. Thinking things through, and biding his time, more than rushing into things, Josh’s feelings are clear even in the most easy of moments. With a rawness to his character that adds to the story without being overdone, and a clear attraction between himself and Hudson without either rushing towards it, Josh is the kind of boy every girl wants.
Rounding out her family is Hudson’s mom, a woman who certainly has her faults but who clearly loves her daughter intensely, and her little brother, called the Bug, who is easily one of the best little brother characters ever. Her best friend Dani is also a great character, having a strength to her that doesn’t her crumple in the face of Hudson’s rough moments yet also doesn’t have her being done entirely over small things. Then there’s Will, another charming hockey boy who has his own sort of twists to throw into things.
The pacing of this one is fantastic, absolutely gripping and intriguing from start to finish. With several story lines weaved together and merged by the end, yet none of them taking too prevalent a role at the expense of the others, Ockler’s timing and plotting is amazing. Adding in some original elements in terms of the chapter titles, and blending several elements to make a warm but heartrending story, this one is definitely a must read for fans of both romance and the rougher stuff.
Source: ARC received from author in exchange for an honest review
Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: January 3, 2012