Saturday, June 23, 2012

Review: Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler

BittersweetBook: Bittersweet
Author: Sarah Ockler
Publishing Date: January 3rd, 2012
Publisher: Simon Pulse
My rating: 4 stars

Goodreads Summary:
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...

One thing is for sure: Bittersweet is definitely better than Twenty Boy Summer. That book was just...blech.

So, I really like this cover. I think it's very fitting, and it gives off that quaint wintry feel that I got from the entire setting of Watonka (is that a real place? The name is so...whimsical. I like.). I really liked Ockler's writing in this novel, and I remember it was pretty good in That Other Book, too. This is how Hudson describes the place in the end:

All the little quirks that make even the most barren, frigid places beautiful, that make a tiny gray dot on the map the one place you'll always call home, no matter where your glamorous, boring, adventurous, average, ridiculous, impossible, epic, romantic, bacon-infused life leads you.

It's not the best quote in there, but it was one that struck a chord with me. As someone who yearns to leave my dumpy little town for the big city, this book was a good reminder that it's the people that make a place special, and to be alone while reaching for your dreams is sometimes worse than having support in your failures. Also, I loved the cupcake descriptions. If I weren't on a diet, I'd go snarf a couple vanilla wafers from my pantry right now. I mean, dark chocolate espresso cupcakes topped with cinnamon café au lait icing, white chocolate chips, and chocolate-covered espresso beans? Come into my mouth, please!

This is a sweet book, packed with delicious desserts and likable people. Bug was the cutest one of them all. I think Bug added a star to this review. He thought maraschino cherries were martian cherries. I wish my sister were that cute.

However, I can't say as much for the main character, Hudson. Strangely enough, I liked what Ockler did with her side characters like Trick, Bug, and even Dani. But it was hard for me to like Hudson. That's not to say that I couldn't understand her conflicts or her sudden alienation of everyone important in her life. She just didn't do things that were very endearing and made it difficult to sympathize; namely, when she kept cutting off Frankie when she was trying to tell her about Will. I thought it was obtuse of her, especially after she'd already learned that Frankie was right the first time. It bothered me that she wouldn't learn. Josh was your average, cute boy who shares music and all that cute stuff. But he didn't have much of a defining aspect, besides his sister Abby (and who hasn't seen the girlfriend-is-actually-sister thing before?). In fact, I felt that Will had much more charisma and personality than Josh. So I think Ockler should have worked a bit more on her main characters, who pale in comparison to the other less important people.

That said, I enjoyed this book way more than That Other Book, and the characters and plot were way more fun to read about, too. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll go stare at cupcake pictures on Tumblr.
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