Friday, March 29, 2013
Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler
Simon Pulse, 2013
This book had a lot going for it: Sarah Ockler has a fine YA contemporary pedigree; I adore books with cooking/baking; and there are cute hockey boys (including one named Will!) After reading this though, my feelings about it, alas, are bittersweet.
Let's start with the good, which would definitely include all the food related moments. Main character Hudson makes cupcakes for her mom's diner and each chapter title is a description of a kind of cupcake. And these are no ordinary cupcakes; these are gourmet absolutely delectable mouthwatering cupcakes. I got a little bit hungry just reading some of the samples.
Another highlight is the yummy hockey boys. Although Will has his moments, the real star is Josh (who shares a name with hot Paul Rudd in Clueless so that's fine with me). I am way too old for high school boys but for a time, I was able to pretend that everything was age appropriate. There are also some really excellent friends in here, way better than Hudson deserves as she treats many people poorly.
A third highlight I should mention is the ice skating. Hudson was on track for figure skating glory before throwing it all away over the dissolution of her parents' marriage. A chance for a scholarship (and thus the ability to leave her tiny town for greener pastures) prompts her to get back on the ice and also entangles her with the hockey boys. This book was really fun for me to read as Ockler ably gets us to feel the ice and cold while I got to actually chill in the So Cal sun (seriously the best weather!)
The more bitter part would be just that everything felt a little too predictable like how Hudson was slowly losing sight of what means the most on her quest for the scholarship and just how overstuffed this book is. There are family, friend, romantic, and money troubles included as well as general teen anxiety over the future-I'm not sure that everything was as smoothly handled as it could have been had a few elements been taken out. I ended up really frustrated with Hudson especially in regards to the way she handled her sole friendship.
Overall: A tasty jam-packed treat for YA contemporary fans!