Anne Pfeffer's Reviews > Bittersweet

Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler
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's review
Feb 13, 2012

it was amazing

I've never particularly focused on Sarah Ockler's books before. I read Twenty Boy Summer, but don't remember much about it, and never got to Fixing Delilah. Imagine my happy surprise to read Bittersweet and discover it was fantastic!

Some reasons to read Bittersweet:

First, it's funny. Here's the protagonist, Hudson, fantasizing about the hunky Josh:

What do you need, Josh? Just name it. Anything. I'm totally here for you.

I knew I could count on you, Hudson. The thing is... I don't know if I'm a good kisser. It's not the sort of thing you can figure out on your own, you know? So I was thinking, if it wouldn't be too much trouble, maybe you could kiss me, every day for a year, and then you can…

Second, it features amazing cupcake concepts at the start of every chapter. For example we have the "No One Wants to Kiss a Girl who Smells like Bacon, so I Might as Well get Fat Cupcakes." They are double-chocolate cupcakes served warm in a sugar-butter reduction; piped with icing braids of peanut butter, cream cheese, and fudge; and sprinkled with chocolate chips.

I suggest a cookbook sequel.

Third, Ockler puts her writing into high gear, serving up rich, detailed descriptions of things like frigid Midwest winters, decaying industrial buildings, and snowstorms. The setting is beautifully evoked and central to this book, about a girl who desperately wants to get away. Here's an example:

No joke – winter on the beaches of Watonka is about the emptiest thing you'll ever see in your life. When you're out here alone, contemplating all the things you didn't do and the person you didn't become… if you think about it too long – if you stand here and consider the great bleakness of it all – a hush seeps into the gray space, and the wind will hollow out your bones, and the purest kind of loneliness comes up from inside to swallow you like an avalanche.

Finally, this story is just plain fun. Take one plucky failed ice skater/ cupcake baker extraordinaire, add one tiny genius brother, mix in an entire hockey team, and garnish with two hunky team co-captains, and voilà! The result is Bittersweet, for your enjoyment.
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