bittersweet by sarah ockler

Once upon a time, Hudson knew exactly what her future looked like. Then a betrayal changed her life and knocked her dreams to the ground. Now she’s a girl who doesn’t believe in second chances, a girl who stays under the radar by baking cupcakes at her mom’s diner and obsessing over what might have been.

So when things start looking up and she has another shot at her dreams, Hudson is equal parts hopeful and terrified. Of course, this is also the moment a cute, sweet guy walks into her life—and starts serving up some seriously mixed signals. She’s got a lot on her plate, and for a girl who’s been burned before, risking it all is easier said than done.

It’s time for Hudson to ask herself what she really wants, and how much she’s willing to sacrifice to get it. Because in a place where opportunities are fleeting, she knows this chance may very well be her last….

My Thoughts:

Remember those Cutting Edge movies? Bittersweet is a little like them – hockey player meets figure skater.  But while Bittersweet is a good concept, its execution is a bit rocky.

I’m all for the dynamic of a talented figure skater helping a less-than-stellar hockey team – it’s a perfect tension scenario.  But Bittersweet focuses less on the games and more on the rest of Hudson’s world, from new friends to her pushy mom to her adorable brother to cupcakes. This would’ve been okay had it not stretched on and on, with no end in sight.

The thing is, all of the characters are really interesting and fleshed out. Hudson’s friend, Dani, is funny and charming and everything a best friend should be.  Bug, Hudson’s brother, is not your average eight-year-old, but he’s spectacularly funny and cute.  I wish Hudson’s mom had been included a little more, if only because so many issues revolve around either her or their family (which includes her).  Her mom has a much bigger role in the first half of the story, then tapers off.

This is my biggest issue with Bittersweet: it tapers off. I love the first half of the story.  What’s not to like about a figure-skater-turned-cupcake-maker? But there’s not even much focus on the cupcakes. Or rather, the passion behind the cupcakes.  And then the hockey team comes into play and everything else takes a back seat.  The romance that stems from the coaching gig is boring and obvious; while I was neither surprised by Hudson’s errors and choices nor opposed to her relations with two of the team’s members, I just never got the sense that it was necessary. Had the romance been condensed, I think I would’ve enjoyed the story much more.

If you don’t dive in expecting detailed focus on the sports or baking, you’ll be happy enough reading about Bug’s antics.

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