Hello everyone :) How you all doing today? I hope you’re great and all that fun stuff.
So I am really excited to share this book today for Book of the Week.
I met Sarah Ockler last weekend at the Summer Lovin’ Book Tour stop at the Mission Viejo library. I actually met five new authors that, more about all of them who I just needed to read. Unfortunately, buy I could not buy books from all them (being a poor college student will do that) and so I bought two paperbacks, and one of them was the book I’m going to review today.
See, I’m trying to spread the kind of books I review out to different genres, not just the young adult fantasy types. I am going to mostly stick to YA because that’s what I’m passionate about and its what this blog is mostly about, my passion and support for YA literature.
But I do notice that my Book of the Week posts tend to be in the supernatural and fantastical realms of YA. They tend to be paranormal and fantasy and science fiction and dystopian.
Which is funny because I actually became very passionate in young adult literature through contemporary authors like Meg Cabot and Sarah Dessen. These two authors I really think are the reason I got so into reading (besides JK Rowling, obviously) and they are two of my biggest influences in my own writing.
So I need to really get back to reviewing more YA contemporary books…and I read this book the other night, in the hopes that I’d like it and I could write about it for Book of the Week. I mean, I know, I could write about the books I didn’t like too but I like writing about books that I enjoy.
And I seriously enjoyed this book. I stayed up til about 3:30 am finishing the book. And I normally stay up that late so normally it wouldn’t be THAT big of a deal BUT I had to wake up for school at 7 am so I pretty much got no sleep at all. But that probably means it was good, right? Right. So here is this week’s Book of the Week!
young adult, contemporary, romance
Part of a Series:
Nope, standalone novel. Which is good because my wallet is getting too empty buy all these sequels haha
You May Like If You Liked:
If you’re a fan of contemporaries like Meg Cabot, Sarah Dessen or Deb Caletti, this is a book for you
Hudson Avery was a figure skating super star, primed for competition, and ready to take on the world. Just as she’s about to skate in the show that could literally change her life and career, she discovers an ugly secret about her father, a secret that’ll destroy her parents marriage, and it all suddenly seems like too much. She purposely flubs her routine and abandons the figuring skating world.
Fast forward a few years, and Hudson is seventeen years old, and working in her mom’s diner, helping to keep her family afloat after her father left. She wants to get out of this town, but doesn’t know how when she is so glued to the survival of her family and the diner. She throws herself into baking cupcakes, delicious cupcakes that bring customers flowing into the diner and helping her mom take care of her younger brother. She has a new best friend and she’s left everything about her whole life behind. Between the demands of her mother, and the absence of her father, she’s in over her head and she spends most days kind of pissed off at the world.
But then she starts skating again, at a local pond, just for the fun of it…until she gets a letter from a foundation created in the name of her old skate coach. There’s going to be a competition and the reward is 50,000 dollars, an incentive that Hudson can’t help but notice. It would be the perfect ticket out of there. But getting back into skating isn’t that easy, not when she quit under terrible circumstances, not when it was something she and her dad shared together and he isn’t around anymore.
Add in two cute boys. There’s Josh Blackthorn, a hockey player who recruits her to help him get better at skating, and then there’s Will, hot, popular, captain of the hockey team, who ropes Hudson into helping the entire team out with their skating. While Hudson helps the team improve and they start winning, and she starts training for her first competition in years, other things start to fall away, like her friendships and her commitment to her mom’s diner. Hudson must realize what’s important and what’s not, and how to balance the things in her life.
Honestly, I absolutely loved this book, and devoured it one night. I definitely need to get more of Sarah Ockler’s books. She was a really good author to read, and I liked pretty much everything about this book. I did have one beef though, and it was something about the end. I am trying really hard to to avoid spoilers, or ruining books for you guys so this is what I’m going to do:
I understand why Hudson made the decision that she did, and I understand that it was to show her growth and show what was important and how she changed and all that. But I had been looking forward to seeing how a particular event was going to go and I was sad when it didn’t pan out. I had hoped maybe she would have had her lightbulb, epiphany moment AFTER but maybe that’s just me. I’m trying really hard to explain this without giving it away haha but its very difficult. Basically there was something toward the end that was going to happen and it didn’t end up happening and I understand the logic behind it but I really did want it to happen anyway. There. That was the best, most creative way I could explain my beef without ruining it for everyone else.
But moving on to the good! There is so much good!
I love a YA contemporary novel that is REAL. I hate cheese. There are so many YA novels with cheese and its extremely frustrating and annoying. There was this particular book that I read in high school, or maybe a couple years after, and I won’t mention it exactly because the author is fairly popular. But it was about a girl who moved to Laguna Beach and she learns to surf and the hot guy loves her, and all this cheesy stuff. There wasn’t any DEPTH to it. And I feel like you can have fun and funny, and easy reads with depth. I don’t like to read books with no purpose and that book read like a fan fiction, or a story that a girl wrote about her and her crush…the kind of stories I wrote when I was like 12.
But authors like Sarah Dessen, Morgan Matson, Meg Cabot, Deb Caletti are writing these real, amazing, contemporary novels but they also make me laugh and they’re fun and all that.
And I am happy to add Sarah Ockler to that list, even just from this one book.
Hudson is such a real, relatable character. She is very typical teenager, thrown in a situation that actually more teenagers experience than you think. Ockler recognizes that teens do obsess over the opposite sex and shopping and movies and make-up and clothes and that stuff, but they are also confronted with very, very real problems and they display a higher intelligence than I think adults give them credit for. Hudson wants to bust out of her town, she’s over living there and she wants to get out and she thinks the only way out is to compete in a figure skating contest again. But you kind of understand her deep need to just get out. Her father is gone, off with his new girlfriend, touring the country and writing a BLOG about it, and she’s shouldered with a ton of responsibilities, like helping her mom keep the diner afloat and taking care of her eight-year-old brother. This is something I can completely relate to, as when my own parents separated, I had a lot more responsibilities than most teens had.
And you really see Hudson struggle with all of that. She still hasn’t quite gotten over all the things that happened at once: giving up on skate, losing her father, losing her best friend and all of that. Before she can have a chance to maybe accept all of that, she is suddenly a cupcake making queen/waitress at the diner, a diner that is so close to failing, and she’s not really given a chance to be a teenager.
And I love on her quest to be young and to rebel a little, she makes mistakes and does the wrong things because that’s what being a teenager is about. I don’t really know any teenager who actually makes the right decisions. She dates the wrong boys and she chooses the wrong things, and prioritizes wrong and all of that. You want to slap her because she’s doing all the wrong things but you know that she’ll learn from them and make them again. Its a very real portrayal of a teenager: someone who has intelligence and is capable of more than we think but makes mistakes and is human. Ockler gives her teen characters a lot more credit than I think other authors do. Hudson is very smart, and realizes the kind of burdens her mother is under and deals with things like money issues and child care and all of that. But she also has dreams and likes to gossip with her friends and has crushes on cute boys. (Love Josh Blackthorn. Who wouldn’t have a crush on a cute hockey player?).
Oh and her obsession with Hester Prynne and The Scarlett Letter kept me laughing the whole time too. Mostly because I detest that book to no end. I enjoyed actually quite a few of the books that I read in high school, probably more than most kids in high school but that was one book I just could not get past….probably because it was the first book I studied in super hard AP English Junior Year that nearly killed me…
One more thing, I loved the sports angle of the story. I loved that Hudson was a figure skater and that she helps out the hockey team with their skating and all that. I love sports, I love love love sports and I feel like most book characters hate sports and its so annoying! I love that there was a sports element to this book. I am currently working on my third (and probably first REAL) novel and its a YA contemporary but it is going to have a HUGE baseball angle in it. I enjoyed rooting for the hockey team, because they sucked so bad and they were the underdog and you want them to win and there’s something awesome about having a crush on an athlete, like a baseball player or a basketball player or a hockey player, like in the novel. Thank you Sarah for putting sports in here. I’m loving it :) I’m tired of heroines who are readers all the time. I get it already, books rock haha let’s see some girls who like sports!
4.5 out of 5 Stars
Recommended or Not?:
Definitely! Sarah Ockler gives us a real portrayal of a teen struggling with her responsibilities to her family and her desire to live her own life, and get out of the town that she feels is holding her back. Its funny and touching and there’s that cool sports element that is there that you don’t get often in YA books. There’s love and kissing but its not overly mushy, and there’s family and friends. Its a great book and I stayed up all night to finish reading it and I totally recommend it to all of you :)
my own personal signed copy of Bittersweet. It was so lovely to meet you, Sarah!
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If you liked this review, and want to read this book, click the book title above and it’ll take you to the Amazon page!
You Can Find Sarah:
Also, in celebration that today is my blog’s one year birthday, I am having a HUGE epic contest full of all kinds of nerd swag, and one of those things is a bookmark signed by Sarah Ockler!