Monday, July 16, 2012

Book Review: Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler

Three years ago, 15-year-old Hudson Avery was a champion figure skater on an Olympic track. Three years ago, on the night of the biggest competition of her life, Hudson discovered that her dad, her biggest fan and supporter, was having an affair. After going all the way to the finals, Hudson couldn't do it anymore - she threw the competition, blowing every jump and combination in her routine, and blowing herself out of the figure skating world at the same time.

It's now Hudson's senior year of high school, and her life is totally different. Her dad is touring the West with Shelvis (who knew there were female Elvis impersonators?!), the latest in his long string of girlfriends, while Hudson is stuck in freezing Watonka, New York. All her dreams left on the ice, Hudson's been camped out (well, hiding, really, if you want to be honest) behind a mixer in the kitchen of her mom's diner, throwing all her energy into her other passion - cupcakes. After three years of zany creations - helloooo, sweet delicious Cherry Bombs! - Hudson's been dubbed the unofficial Queen of Cupcakes. There are perks to shattering your champion figure skating future and working in your mom's struggling diner - Hudson gets to spend a ton of time with her supersmart, science-loving, hilarious and fun baby brother Bug and her BFF, the romance-novel loving and cupcake-tasting expert Dani.

Until she gets the letter from the Capriani Foundation inviting her to compete in the Capriani Cup, a skating competition whose final prize is a $50,000 scholarship. This is it - her ticket out of Watonka. Hudson just needs to find somewhere to train, somewhere that isn't the frozen, bumpy runoff ice of Lake Erie.

So when she literally crashes into gorgeous Josh Blackthorn, co-captain of the Watonka Wolves varsity hockey team (who, incidentally, are terrible), on the bumpy lake ice, it's a match made in heaven. Hudson agrees to give the hockey boys some skating tips in exchange for free ice time at Baylor's, the rink where the hockey team practices.

It's a lot for one girl to handle - cupcakes for the diner, babysitting Bug, sneaking out to coach the guys and train (there's no way Hudson's telling her mom she's skating again), homework, keeping up her friendship with Dani, and trying to figure out what's going on with her and Josh (especially when Josh's co-captain, Will, is also totally interested). Still, Hudson's pretty sure she can swing it until she wins the competition. After all, winning will give her exactly what she wants - a rock star future and the cash to fund it - everything her mom can't afford right now. But after three years of living a different life, Hudson isn't so sure that her old future is the one she still wants...

Bittersweet is a cool breeze of book for those of you camped out in the shade this hot July! Hudson is smart, funny and snarky, even when she's trying to deal with her flake of father, her way overwhelmed mom, juggling two hockey boys, serious friendship drama, and tracking down the fabulously named Mr. Napkins, Bug's pet hamster. For fans of Sarah Dessen and Deb Caletti, cupcakes, ice sports, or just a good fun read, while away a few hours in the AC with the newest Sarah Ockler!

Megan
(who is totally enthralled by Smoke and Bone by Leigh Bardugo!!)

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