Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Number of pages: 378
My copy: review copy, borrowed
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…
* * *
I wasn’t exactly a Sarah Ockler fan and while so many people raved about her debut, Twenty Boy Summer, I was just pretty lukewarm about it. So I wasn’t very interested to read her newest book, Bittersweet until I started reading cute reviews about it from some of my trusted reviewers. Curious, I borrowed a copy from a friend and read the first few pages, and before I knew it, I was halfway through. :D
Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler is about Hudson Avery, whose bright figure skating career is just ahead of her. But that was three years ago, before her father left. Now she’s the best cupcake maker in the small town of Watonka, baking and serving luscious desserts in their family. diner. When Hudson receives a letter from her old mentor’s foundation for a shot at a scholarship, she starts dreaming again. But with Hudson’s family relying on her, she’s not sure if she can actually go for her dreams. And don’t get her started on Josh Blackthorn, the cute hockey player who’s sending her seriously mixed signals.
Okay, here’s the thing: I loved Bittersweet the moment I read about Hudson being a figure skater and then later looking for the perfect cupcake “to fix all things.” I don’t think I’ve ever shared in this blog ever so let me share this now: 1) I like to bake and 2) I used to dream of being a figure skater. The only one I only really got to do was the first one and I have long ago abandoned the dream of being a figure skater — I don’t think I have the skills or the body for that. :P However, reading Bittersweet had me living vicariously through Hudson, and I was in a very, very happy world in the next few days of reading the book.
But it’s not a completely happy book. Hudson has been burned and she continues to be burned out in the things she’s doing. She wants something big, to do something she loves, and I can definitely relate with what she’s feeling. That being said, however, Hudson is not so jaded that she’s just full of angst. She’s a funny and reliable narrator, and I loved being in her head for the story. I loved her passion for both cupcakes and skating, and I really, really wanted the best for her as the story goes on. I also loved the other characters, particularly her past and present best friends Kara and Danielle and I completely adored her little brother Bug! The boys of the hockey team were also a very good addition, and I loved that particular angle in the story.
Bittersweet is also one of those books with the slow burn romance, and a love triangle that isn’t so annoying. I really liked how balanced the attention was, and for a moment there I wasn’t sure who Hudson would pick (but I was definitely campaigning for one number fifty-six). The love triangle also didn’t mean enemies for the two guys concerned, which was also a huge relief because who needs guys beating each other up? I was also glad that she wasn’t the kind of heroine who’s also fixated with having sex on top of her other problems in the book. The book’s ending reminded me a bit of a Disney movie, but I like Disney movies so I think the ending was just perfect. :)
On a final note, here’s a warning when reading this book: don’t read it hungry! Or, just make sure you have a couple of cupcakes on hand and use Meijer coupon codes for some organic snacks. I didn’t, but the moment I finished this I went to the nearest cupcake store near my office and got myself some treats. This book also made me really, really crave a cupcake baking session — I’ve never really made any fancy frosted cupcakes, but this book made me feel like maybe I could. And I should. Soon.
Like I said, I wasn’t a big fan of Twenty Boy Summer, and I wasn’t really interested in reading any other Ockler book after that. But now that I’ve read Bittersweet, I think I have changed my mind. Bittersweet is a cute, cute contemporary YA book, and I am definitely acquiring my own copy soon. :)
Last: writing this review had me craving for cupcakes again. Like these:
(all images from weheartit.com)