Reviewed by Grace Soledad

I had never read anything by Sarah Ockler before but she’s the author of Twenty Boy Summer – a book everyone is always insisting that I read. So when I got the opportunity to read Bittersweet, I jumped at the chance.

One of the most endearing things about Bittersweet is the protagonist, Hudson. Hudson has always been an ice skater, destined for greater things. Her parents, especially her dad, supported her dream. But three years ago, Hudson found evidence of her dad’s affair, the one that tore their family apart. Now she can’t imagine trusting him again, or even trusting the people around her.

After abandoning her life on the ice and going through her parents’ messy divorce, Hudson finds herself inventing cupcakes at her mother’s diner and coaching a boys’ hockey team. She doesn’t let anybody get too close to her, and quietly yearns to get back on the ice, missing its familiarity. With her mother’s diner going under, Hudson learns of a skating competition that could save her family, but could also reopen a lot of old wounds. But with her mother’s livelihood on the line and with Hudson falling in love with a boy who is perfect for her, will her trust problems cause her to miss her chance?

It’s rare for me to read a book where the main character is incredibly passionate about one thing. For me, it’s dance. For Hudson, it’s ice skating. Her passion comes through on every page and and the terminology is easy to pick up and understand even for readers unfamiliar with the sport.

The best and most important parts of Bittersweet are the relationships between Hudson and the people around her. She has trouble with her friends, with her mom and dad, and even with the boy who she is falling for. These relationships are bittersweet because Hudson truly loves the people involved, but allows the doubts and sadness over her family to take over. She is a strong character who is thoughtful and interesting to read about, but her problems truly make her memorable.

The writing in this book was impeccable. I never expected Sarah Ockler’s writing to touch me so deeply. It was all the little things that made it memorable: the cupcake descriptions at the beginning of each chapter that made my mouth water, the natural and clear dialogue, the blossoming romance, and Hudson’s sense of self.

With talented writing and a sweet story line, Bittersweet is not a book to miss.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Grace Soledad is a teenage bibliophile who runs the blog Words Like Silver. She is described as “antisocial” because she constantly has her nose buried in a book or a notebook. When not reading, she can be found dancing, writing, or at the beach.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Simon Pulse. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.