Hudson's parents will divorce and she sees it as kind of her fault. She is, after all, the one who found the cheetah bra. It's the night of her biggest ice skating competition and she blows it thinking about her parents, her little brother and the life they will no longer share.
This is how Bittersweet, Sarah Ockler's third novel, opens.
While this book is a little heavy handed with The Scarlet Letter references and a little Mighty Ducks meets The Cutting Edge, it makes up for it with its take on friendships, relationships and cupcakes.
I preach, to anyone who will listen, about the effects of divorce. I also preach about the effects of staying in a relationship when you should divorce. I talk about how your kids notice more than you think and I talk about how you are, not only hurting yourself, but those around you. Hudson has learned some pretty crappy behaviors from her divorced parents and she exhibits these behaviors throughout the book. Hudson thinks of her friends and family, only after she thinks of herself. When feeling down about the impending divorce she kisses the boy she knows her best friend likes. She talks about how she knew it was wrong, she talks about how she needed to tell her friend the truth. Years later she alienates her second best friend by not telling her the whole truth. She buries herself in her work (the making of exquisite cupcakes--and there are some amazing ones that I'm definitely going to have to try) and in a flirtation with the hockey captain, although she is warned not to and although she truly has feelings for someone else.
I dislike Hudson's shallow, irresponsible father. He smashes everything while doing anything to please himself. He is so far removed from the picture that he doesn't even comment or recognize that he hurts his daughter every time he sends a thoughtless email or post an even shallower blog post. He reminds me so much of my father, that he doesn't even deserve the few lines I have given him.
I really dislike Hudson's mother. I know that my single mother went out of her way and humbled herself to make sure that the three of us wanted for nothing and to make sure that the three of us lived normal teenager lives. When I was in high school I had to work to have money for things like cheerleading and club dues. I had to fundraise to get money for summer camps. I know that without the help of my aunt I would have still fallen short. However, my mother did not demand that I work and she did not demand that any of us girls become the other parent. I know that Hudson's mother wants the diner to succeed. I know that Hudson's mother wants Bug (Hudson's little brother) to have a great Christmas and not be burdened, he is, after all, only 8. In doing this she has created a tough as nails daughter who remains silent when she should speak. I cannot imagine how hard divorce must be on a parent, but I do know that you don't make your teenage children carry more weight than they can bear and you don't have your teenage daughter sacrifice her dreams so you can live yours. I know that, in the end, Hudson and her mother come to some sort of agreement, but I'm not sure that it is enough...I'm not sure that Hudson's mother understands what kind of daughter she has had a hand in creating and I'm not sure that she has done enough to help undo the damage.
I am glad that Hudson finds her true passion. I am glad that she finally figures out how to begin the conversation with her mother, her brother and her best friends; past and present. I am glad that she gets the guy. It is wonderful that this book really doesn't end picture perfectly. That's life after all and we must learn to live it thorns and all.
I enjoy a good teen romance, so I enjoyed this book. If you don't get any of the hockey, ice references (like me) you can always fall back on the cupcakes.