Bitter End

Bitter End

by Jennifer Brown

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Overview

He told me he loved me and I believed him.

When Alex falls for the charming new boy at school, Cole — a handsome, funny sports star who adores her — she can't believe she's finally found her soul mate . . . someone who truly loves and understands her.

At first, Alex is blissfully happy. Sure, Cole seems a little jealous of her relationship with her close friend Zack, but what guy would want his girlfriend spending all her time with another boy? As the months pass, though, Alex can no longer ignore Cole's small put-downs, pinches, and increasingly violent threats.

As Alex struggles to come to terms with the sweet boyfriend she fell in love with and the boyfriend whose "love" she no longer recognizes, she is forced to choose — between her "true love" and herself.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316086967
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date: 05/15/2012
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 288,697
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 15 - 18 Years

About the Author

Jennifer Brown writes and lives in the Kansas City, Missouri area with her family. She is the author of Hate List, Torn Away, Thousand Words, Perfect Escape, and Bitter End.

Read an Excerpt

Bitter End


By Brown, Jennifer

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Copyright © 2011 Brown, Jennifer
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780316086950

CHAPTER ONE

If I had to describe my best friend, Bethany, in one word, it would be persistent. Or maybe unrelenting. Or, if I were writing her into a poem, I might use importunate, because words like importunate impressed Mrs. Moody, and when I used them she told me I was a born poet, which was kind of cool.

Doesn’t matter; all of those words mean the same thing—determined—and Bethany was nothing if not determined.

It was one of the things I liked best about her. She always had a clear sense of where her life was going, or, more accurately, where she was steering it. For all the ways we were totally alike, that was one of the ways we were different, and it was part of why I liked hanging out with her. I think I kind of hoped her importunateness might rub off on me and someday I’d find myself behind the steering wheel of my own life, certain where I was going to end up.

Sometimes Bethany’s persistence could be a little hard to ignore. It didn’t matter that we were just recovering from lunch rush and that I was busy wiping a mountain of trays taller than myself, or that my manager, Georgia, was standing right next to me. Bethany marched into The Bread Bowl in her untied high-tops, her giganto-purse bouncing against her hip, and sat down at the dirtiest table in the dining room.

Psst!” she hissed, pulling a handful of papers out of her purse and waving them at me. I ignored her, keeping my eyes glued on the tray I was holding. So she did it again. “Psst!” And then she cleared her throat elaborately.

“I think someone sprang a leak over there,” Georgia said, pulling a wad of twenties out of the cash register drawer and then shutting it with her hip. “Or a lung, from the sound of it.” Bethany’s persistence was no stranger to Georgia, either. Georgia liked Bethany and often joked that Bethany would for sure be the first female president.

I stacked the tray I’d been wiping and dropped the wet rag on the counter. “I think I’ve got a table to clean,” I said.

“Looks like it,” Georgia mumbled. She headed toward the office, turning all of the twenties so they were facing the same direction. “And with her spitting all over it like that, it’s getting dirtier every minute.” Then she added over her shoulder, “And get that customer a drink. Might help her with that throat problem.”

“You’re all about the humanitarianism, Gee,” I responded, grabbing an empty cup on my way.

Cleaning the dining room was probably my least favorite duty at The Bread Bowl. People could leave some really disgusting trash behind. Sometimes, though, if Bethany happened to be hanging out at The Bread Bowl, having cleanup detail wasn’t so bad. That way she and I could talk while I picked up shredded pieces of napkin and half-eaten sandwiches, trying to look a lot busier than I actually was.

“Look at this,” Bethany said as soon as I plunked a Diet Dr Pepper in front of her and got to work on her table. She bumped my leg lightly with her knee. “Hot tub!”

I straightened and grabbed the stapled stack of papers out of her hand and scanned the top one, which included a grainy photo of a twelve-person Jacuzzi.

“Oh, man,” I said, reading down the list of amenities: hot tub, indoor pool, fitness room with cardio machines. It sounded like bliss. Expensive bliss. “This is amazing. No way we can afford it. You think we can actually afford it?”

I flipped the page over and started to read about nearby attractions. Across the room, Georgia cleared her throat. I glanced up. She was stacking take-out menus next to the register. She shifted her eyes meaningfully to Dave, the owner of The Bread Bowl, or Granite-Ass, as he was not-so-lovingly called by some of the line cooks. For some reason Dave had been hanging around lately, which put a real damper on everyone’s mood, not to mention my ability to drool over hot tubs and hotel fitness rooms with Bethany.

I thrust the papers back at her and resumed picking up crumpled sandwich wrappers and stuffing them into a cup.

“Oh, and look!” Bethany was saying, totally ignoring both my question and Georgia’s not-so-subtle warning. “It has a huge fireplace in the lobby. I bet you could get hot cocoa and sit there celebrity-watching all day long. Just think, we could end up making out in the snow with a star.” She gasped, slapping my shoulder with the papers. A handful of napkins fluttered out of the cup and back onto the table. “We could end up in a tabloid!” She held her hands up in the air as if she was envisioning a title. “Who Are the Mystery Beauties on the Slopes Breaking Boy Band Hearts?”

I giggled. “More like, ‘Who Are the Mystery Klutzes Who Broke Boy Band Legs by Falling into Them on a Ski Slope?’ ”

“Well, I wouldn’t mind breaking a leg if it meant a hottie broke my fall.”

“Uh-uh, I get dibs on the broken hottie,” I said.

“No way, I thought of it first.”

Georgia cleared her throat again. Now she was starting to sound like Bethany. Dave had moved into the dining room and was standing with his hands on his hips, assessing it slowly with his eyes. The last thing I needed was to get on Dave’s bad list. I most liked Dave when he pretended I didn’t exist, which was 99 percent of the time. He reminded me of my dad that way. I was used to being ignored by the men in my life. “Listen, can we talk about broken boy bands and tabloids later? I’ve gotta clean this up.”

Bethany sighed. “Work, work, work.”

“Yep. And if I get fired, you’ll be ordering cocoa for one, one, one.”

Bethany eyed Dave and gave a frustrated grunt. “Sure. Okay. Call me, though. I want to see what you think about restaurants. Zack and I’ve been researching.”

Zack. Our other best friend. If I could describe him in one word, it would be… well, you just can’t sum up Zack in one word. He was like an overprotective big brother, pervy uncle, and annoying little cousin all in one. He was a traveling comedy show. A musical genius. An amazing friend. If I was being completely honest, Zack was probably the only reason Bethany and I weren’t relegated to “too nerdy to notice” status at school. The enviro-nut and the poet—invisible and invisible. But it was impossible not to notice Zack. Everybody adored him. However, we adored him best, and we adored him first, so we were okay by association.

If I were to write Zack into a poem, I’d definitely use the word sanguine.

Bethany stood up and tossed her empty cup in the trash before coming back for her things. I knew she was going to go home, flop on the couch with her laptop, and scan every restaurant listing in the state of Colorado until I called. It’s all she’d done since we came up with the idea for this trip.

“Oh!” She snapped her fingers. “I almost forgot. Guess what idea Zack had?”

“I can only imagine,” I said, patting the last of the trash into the cup and straightening the salt and pepper shakers. Bethany picked a piece of lint off the bottom of her shirt.

“Tattoos,” she said.

“Tattoos?” I repeated.

She nodded, biting her lower lip as she smiled. “Yeah, he thinks we should get matching tatts while we’re there. Like a mountain or… or I don’t know… something sexy.”

“You do know what Zack’s interpretation of ‘sexy’ is, don’t you?” I imagined us all leaving Colorado with half-dressed, big-boobed women in stilettos permanently emblazoned on our bodies.

I picked up the cup and headed for the farthest trash bin—the one by the front door—nonchalantly tugging Bethany’s shirtsleeve so she’d follow me.

“Well, yeah, but…” She paused as I leaned over to throw away the trash. “I don’t know. It could be fun.”

“And painful,” I reminded her. “And permanent.”

“And fun,” she repeated.

Dave’s voice cut through the restaurant. He was griping at someone in the kitchen, which reminded me that I needed to get back to work before he turned on me, too.

“I’ll call you,” I said. “We can talk later.”

Bethany dug out her car keys. “You better,” she said, pushing through the glass doors.

Pressing my fingers lightly against the necklace under my shirt, I scurried back behind the counter and resumed wiping trays, daydreaming a little about Colorado.

Bethany and Zack and I had been planning this trip since we were eight years old, back when Zack’s mom still called us the Terrible Three. It started out as my idea—go to the place my mom was headed when she died and see if I could figure out what was there that was so important to her that she would leave her family the way she did.

But it wasn’t long before Bethany and Zack wanted in on the plan. Partly because they were my best friends and they knew how important it was to me. But mainly they wanted in because the trip sounded fun. And glamorous, like something people do in a movie. Best-friend cross-country mystery-solving road trip. Does it get more feature-film than that?

We decided that the trip was going to be our graduation gift to ourselves, and ever since the last day of junior year, Bethany had been practically obsessed with planning it. She talked about it constantly and even instituted a standing Vacay Day, where we’d get together to go over details every Saturday (Bethany’s idea). Rotating between our houses (my idea). Complete with pizza and video games and lots of crude jokes featuring female body parts (Zack’s idea). We’d been meeting all summer, and so far all we’d managed to accomplish was inhaling about fifteen large pepperoni pizzas and beating level nine of some zombie video game Zack had gotten for his birthday.

Truth be told, I didn’t care about hot tubs and ski gear and restaurants. All I cared about was Mom and what happened to her. Which Dad didn’t seem to care about at all. When I told him after our first Vacay Day meeting that I was going to Colorado after graduation, he made a noncommittal noise but didn’t even look up from the newspaper he was reading at the breakfast table.

“I’m going because of Mom,” I said, standing in the kitchen doorway, staring at his back, as usual.

“What’s your mother got to do with it?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I said. “That’s part of why I want to go.” I took two steps into the room and then stopped and crossed my arms over my chest. The room always felt lonely when Dad was in it. Lonely and chilly. “I want to know why she was leaving. What was so great about Colorado?”

He stood abruptly, closing the paper with one hand and picking up his coffee mug with the other. “You want to go, that’s fine with me. But we don’t have the money for it. With your sister’s college tuition and no second income…” he said, setting his cup in the sink. But he never finished, and before I could ask another question, he was out the door.

Ever since my mom died, it seemed as if my dad always talked in open-ended sentences like that—especially when she was the subject. “You know what your mom would’ve said…” or “Your mom would’ve thought your behavior right now…” or “If only your mom were here…” He always looked so sad and meek when he said it.

It was the Big Mystery of my life. My mom. My dad. What happened between them and why we didn’t talk about it. Sometimes it seemed as if I was the only one in the house who even cared.

The only time I’d ever heard Dad say anything real about our mom was when I was eight. He drank a six-pack at a block party, and then he came home and sat at the kitchen table, with a shoe box of old photos in front of him. That night he said our mom was “crazier than goosehouse shit,” whatever that meant.

My baby sister, Celia, and I had giggled nervously when he said that, not sure if it was some sort of joke, imagining our mom as a white and goopy puddle, stuck to someone’s windshield or a fence post, eyes rolling around insanely. Neither of us remembered our mom. We were really little when she left.

But Shannin, our older sister, was there when Mom left, and she didn’t laugh.

Dad had gotten up, taken the shoe box, and tossed it into the garbage, muttering something about being an old fool. After he left the mudroom, though, I crept in and pulled the shoe box out, took it up to my bedroom, and hid it under the bed. I didn’t know why, but saving that box just felt like something I had to do.

Later that same night, when we were alone, Shannin took us into her bedroom and told us the Real Story. How she’d awakened one night to the phone ringing. How she’d crept out of her room and into the hallway to look around the corner, crouched against the wall with the skirt of her nightgown pulled over her legs. And then how the phone rang again and how Dad’s voice sounded really upset when he answered it.

“She’s gone off the deep end this time, Jules,” Dad had said. “I don’t know. I don’t know where she’s gone.”

Shannin told us about how, just as Dad hung up the phone, the front door banged open and Mom barged through it, saying something about going to Colorado—to the mountains. Dad had pulled on her elbows, saying she was drunk, and begged her to stay, to “see someone,” and Mom argued that she was already “seeing someone,” just not how he meant it.

And then later, after Mom had left and Dad had disappeared into the kitchen and the smell of coffee started to fill the air, Shannin had gone back to bed. And in the morning Shannin found out that while she slept, the police had come to the door and told Dad that Mom had wrapped her car around a light pole and died. Just like that.

“Knocked her brains out onto the road,” Shannin whispered as Celia and I sat cross-legged on her bed, clutching each other’s hands and shivering. “That’s what Dad told Aunt Jules at the funeral. Mom’s brains were knocked out onto Forty-first Street, and they had to shut it down until they could get a hose and wash it off. And Aunt Jules patted Dad’s shoulder and said she knew he loved Mom a lot and that he should never have had to hear something like that, and Dad cried and said, ‘I know, and now I can’t forget it.’ ”

After Shannin told us the story, I went back to my room and locked the door. I pulled out the box of photos of Mom and Dad and dumped them onto my bed, flipping through them carefully and secretively, as if I were doing something wrong just by looking at them.

I stared at those pictures for hours. I’d look at Mom, so happy and thin and glowing, and would imagine her being drunk and crazy like Shannin said. It didn’t seem to fit.

There were dozens of them. A photo of high school graduation. Two of a birthday party. One of their wedding day.

I had my favorites. Ones I’d look at over and over again.

A photo of them at a party. Dad sitting in a folding chair, Mom in his lap. Her hair was very short, and she was wearing a vest over a button-down shirt. His hands were looped across her belly and clasped together. She had her hands resting on his and a big smile on her face.

Another one, of the two of them sitting in a mossy space between two trees. Each of them was barefoot and cross-legged, facing each other with their knees touching. Their faces were shadows. They looked like they were telling secrets.

And another one, Dad and Mom standing in Grandma Belle’s kitchen, wrapped in a kiss. Dad had Mom in a deep dip toward the floor. Her arms were hanging limply at her sides. The back of the photo read: First day back. Reunited!

One after another, the photos telling a story. Only it was a story with no ending because Mom left and Dad never told us why, and the ending we knew just didn’t make sense when I looked at the photos.

The Mom in the photos looked so gentle. The Mom who left us must have been a whole different person.

When I was little, I’d ask Dad about it. Why was she going to Colorado? We didn’t know anyone out there. We’d never even been there. But Dad would just mumble that Mom “wasn’t in her right mind and didn’t know where she was going.” Once he said something about Mom being “too trusting for her own damn good.” But something in his eyes when he said it told me he wasn’t telling the whole story. There was something more to Colorado for Mom. There was something important there. I wanted to shout at him, You heard about her brains on the road, Dad, and you said you couldn’t forget it, but you have! You have forgotten it!

Eventually Shannin told me to stop asking about it because it upset Dad too much to think about Mom. So I did. But I couldn’t forget the story. It haunted me. Literally.

That year, I had nightmares. Always, they were the same. Dad screaming into a pillow, Mom standing at the top of a mountain cackling, her face soft and sweet, her hair billowing out behind her. In the dream, she dangled me over the jagged mountain edge.

“This mountain is mine,” she said, puffs of smoke billowing out of her mouth. “I don’t want you here. I don’t want you at all, Alexandra.”

She laughed as I kicked and thrashed and begged to be let go.

“Oh, Alexandra,” she jeered. “Stop making such a fuss. Just think, they’ll have to shut down traffic while they find a hose to wash your brains off the street. Isn’t that exciting?”

And always, just as she opened her hand and let me fall, I woke up.

It got so bad I refused to go to bed at night. Dad eventually took me to a therapist, who said some stuff I didn’t understand about “closure” and “healing” and suggested that Dad give me something of my mother’s to help me feel closer to her.

Dad came into my room that night clutching a folded yellow envelope.

He cleared his throat. “Alex, honey, I know you’re having a hard time being without your, um…” His eyes filled up and he swallowed. Then he pushed the envelope into my hands. “This was your mother’s. I bought it for her on our honeymoon…. It was in her purse the day she, um…”

I held the envelope in both hands, looking up at him as he swallowed and swallowed, unable to finish any sentence, it seemed, that had anything to do with my mother. He nodded at me, and I opened the envelope. Inside was a necklace—a thin leather strap with a small hoop on the end of it, a web of flossy clear thread strung inside the circle. Tiny beads dotted the delicate web; two white feathers, so small they might have come from a hummingbird’s tail, dangled from the bottom of it. I gently prodded the beads with my finger.

“That’s called a dream catcher,” he said. “It’s supposed to keep nightmares away.”

He pulled the necklace out of the envelope, held it in midair to straighten it, and then carefully slipped it around my neck. It smelled oddly familiar to me—perfumey and alive, almost like a memory—and instinctively my fingers drifted to it.

Right then, at eight years old, I knew. Just as I knew I’d never take the dream catcher necklace off, I knew that someday I’d get to Colorado, where Mom had been going.

The therapist was wrong. The necklace didn’t give me closure. Instead, not knowing anything more than this about my mom made me feel like a piece of me was missing, and I almost felt as though, just like Dad, I could break if I didn’t fill in that piece. That there would always be a hole in my heart where Mom should have been, and if I didn’t fill it in, I could end up empty and dull, like him. That I might forget hearing about her brains on the street, just as he had.

The next day as Zack and Bethany and I played on the woodpile behind Bethany’s house, I showed them the necklace and told them the whole story. My mom wasn’t just gone, and my dad wasn’t just quiet. I told them about the photos and about Mom going crazy and dying on her way to the mountains and about my plan to go where she was going. And just like that, the trip planning officially began.

I needed to know that she was going toward something, not away from us. Not away from me. She loved me. I needed to know that she loved me.

Whenever Aunt Jules or Bethany’s mom or someone else tried to tell me that my mom was an angel watching down on me from heaven, I never could envision it.

To me, my mom was in the mountains, waiting for me to arrive.

AUTHOR’S NOTE In college, I majored in psychology. I’d always had an intense interest in human thought and behavior. Always wanted answers to why people did what they did, what motivated certain actions or inactions. During my junior year, I took two courses in psychology of women. The first was a classroom course, but the second was an independent study, and I got to choose my own topic for the semester. I chose domestic violence. I wanted to learn about the cycle of abuse, about what happens to a woman emotionally and cognitively when she suffers abuse. My goal was to discover the answer to the ever-popular question, Why doesn’t she just get out? I’ve heard myself say the words “I would never…” plenty of times. “I would never let someone abuse me. Hit me once and I’d be outta there, baby!” In fact, I’ve heard lots of women say something along those lines. “If a man ever hit me…” we like to say, and then we have all kinds of strong and powerful things to follow up that phrase. I wonder how many women stuck in an abusive relationship with no idea where to go or what to do had once said, “I would never…” or “If a man ever hit me…” So I spent the semester learning about the cycle, or pattern, of abuse. I learned about the tension-building stage and the abuse stage and the honeymoon period of an abusive relationship. I learned all about learned helplessness and battered person syndrome. I had it down pat. I knew exactly what went on in a woman’s mind when she stayed with an abuser. But what about her heart? Where is the heart in those textbooks? Because we don’t often enter romantic relationships based on what’s going on in our minds. And we don’t often stay in them for what we’re thinking. We love, and because we love, “I would never…” becomes an incredibly inaccurate prediction. I suspect that Alex is not much different from a lot of women out there, stuck in a relationship with a guy who is really great and would actually be perfect if it weren’t for this one horrible thing he does every so often. She loved Cole, and he gave her lots of reasons to love him. She loved their relationship. She loved the good times. She loved the way he made her feel special. And she was willing to forgive him, to make excuses for him, to feel sorry for him, because she loved him so much. And, also like a lot of women out there, it’s this special ability of Alex’s to love that makes it so important that she get out of the relationship before she loses the capacity to feel much at all. In some ways, I feel like this book, this exploration of the “love” side of abuse, is the completion of a project that I began more than a decade ago in that independent study on domestic violence. And Alex has helped me understand that if you’re not actually in the situation, maybe you have no idea what you would do at all. As always, thank you, reader, for taking this journey with me. —JB



Continues...

Excerpted from Bitter End by Brown, Jennifer Copyright © 2011 by Brown, Jennifer. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Bitter End 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 83 reviews.
Mmonteiro33 More than 1 year ago
This book was amazing. My stomach was knots the whole time scared of what Cole might do next. I've seen too many of my friends go through this and Jennifer Brown did a wonderful job describing everything these girls go through. Including their friends. I know it was hard to stand by my friend while she was being abused and not admitting anything was wrong. This book reminded of it. I just loved it.
BlkosinerBookBlog More than 1 year ago
This is a very powerful book, and it's about an issue that is close to my heart. I can see some of the same things in myself and in the main character of my book, Meredith that I see in the main character of Bitter End, Alex. Ms. Brown really nailed what makes it possible to fall in love with the abuser, and what it takes to stay there. I think at a distance, anyone can say that would never happen to them, but truth is that it can happen so much easier than anyone things. It doesn't have to be necessarily physical abuse, although they are usually linked, but it can be harsh words, isolation, or constant assault of character and looks. This never comes out on the first day--it builds slowly until you feel that the guy is the only thing that's important, the only one who understand and loves you. I saw this through Alex, and really felt along with her. I like the secondary characters such as Bethany and Zack, and I really wish that I had, and that everyone has friends this close. True-there's the isolation and the tension, but at the end of the day, they are still there for her. I also really liked her boss, Georgia, I just wanted to give her a hug. There is secondary plots, that is crucial to Alex discovering who she is like the quest to find out more about her mom, their trip to Colorado, and the different family dynamics that we get a peek at through the different characters. This is a really powerful book and I recommend that everyone give it a read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can't lie this book was good, and realistic, but I got really annoyed with the character a lot through out the book. It was like Jennifer was pushing Alex onto Cole. It became a little unrealistic how forgiving she was. she would say she was mad, and then in the same sentence she forgave him. i read many books about women and teen girls in abusive relationships and this girl Alex was the most annoying. I got teary eyed at one point in this book, which was unusual for me. So beware that you will get pissed off at Alex, pretty much throughout the book. Also I though Jennifer Brown did an excellent job at explaining Alex compassion toward her dead mother, and her friendship with Zack and Bethany. I wished I had a friendship like how they did. The book was just good all around. You will laugh and cry, and get pissed. READ IT.
Collier-B More than 1 year ago
When Alex falls for the charming new boy at school, Cole a handsome, funny, sports star that adores her, she can't believe she's finally found her soul mate, someone who truly loves and understands her. At first, Alex is happy. Sure Cole seems a little jealous of her relationship with her close friend Zack, but what guy would want his girlfriend spending all her time with another boy?? As the months pass, though, Alex can no longer ignore Cole's small putdowns, pinches, or violent threats. As Alex struggles to come to terms with the sweet boyfriend she fell in love with and the boyfriend whose love she no longer recognizes, she is forced to choose between true love and herself. One thing I liked about this book is how it really shows her side of things. one thing i disliked about this book was did Cole know what he was doing before he started to abuse her?? If i could give this book a rating between 1-5, I'd give it a 4. the reasoning's because its like i knew what was going to happen next but other than that, I definately suggest this book.
AuntChelly More than 1 year ago
Bitter End is wonderfully written and the reader is immediately pulled onto the rollercoaster ride of an abusive relationship. Each character is real and relatable. Jennfer Brown describes the text book case of teen dating abuse; the friends torn between wanting to help and givng up, the mom who is in denial and doesn't know how to help, the boyfriend's abusive family, and the girl who is in love with a dangerous boy. Jennifer Brown shows us that love is real even when it is not rational. She shows us why people stay in bad relationships and how hard it is to leave them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
AMAZING BOOK!!!! Hate List another great book writtin by Jennifer Brown is also AMAZING 2 of my favorite book
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Alex feels lost. She has ever since her mother drove off, leaving the family behind, and dying in a terrible car accident on her way to Colorado. Alex has always wondered what Colorado meant to her mother. Why was going there more important than her family? In order to help her get over losing her mom, her two best friends, Bethany and Zack, start making plans to take a road trip to Colorado after high school graduation. During Senior year, a new boy moves to town and catches Alex's eye. Cole is attentive, athletic, and attractive. Soon, Cole begins to monopolize all of Alex's time. He shows signs of jealousy about her relationship with Zack, shows up where she works and hangs out until she gets off, and starts having violent mood swings. Alex finds herself in a difficult position. She knows Cole's behavior is wrong and she shouldn't put up with it, but at the same time, she doesn't want to be the "girl who is being abused." She's the poster child for domestic abuse. Will Alex find the strength to make the right decision? Will she be able to salvage her relationships with Bethany and Zack? Will she ever find out why her mother needed to get to Colorado so badly? BITTER END is a wonderfully-crafted story. The friendship between Bethany, Zack, and Alex is great and made me want to have friends just like them. Jennifer Brown did a lot of research in the area of domestic violence and it really shows. Everything rings true in this novel.
JamesterCK on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
1) Character Development: I enjoyed the characters in Bitter End immensely. Maybe it was because I had a similar (but not as horrifying) experience with an ex-boyfriend. I think a lot of people will be able to relate to Alex on at least some level. She had a rough home life, with her mom dying when she was very young and her dad being present, but not really involved. I felt like Alex was super tough just based on that alone. Luckily she had her two best friends, Bethany and Zack, to confide in. I liked Bethany, but it was Zack who really stole the show. His teasing and antics throughout were a welcome distraction and mood lightener in an otherwise very serious story. Since I've been in an emotionally abusive relationship before, I didn't judge Alex the way some people might. I used to think to myself, "Why would anyone let a guy treat them like that. Just leave!" I can personally attest to the fact that it isn't always that simple or easy. In Alex's case, Cole was the first boy to pay her much attention and it's an amazing feeling for her, one that she doesn't want to let go of. Also, Cole is a very smooth talker, able to twist things around to make her feel as though any problem is her fault, including his abuse. After the abuse starts, it turns into her wondering what he's capable of, if he would hurt her or her family/friends if she tried to leave him. I certainly empathized with her and the fact that she felt as though she couldn't escape the relationship. I didn't have much compassion for Cole, but we do get a glimpse of his less-than-glamorous home life which makes you at least understand him a bit better. 2) The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly: First, The Good - I thought this story was extremely well written. It highlighted many different aspects of an abusive relationship, from Alex ditching her best friends for Cole, Cole's jealousy over her friendship with Zack, and his manipulative tendencies. The book had a good overall message and it stayed on my mind long after I finished reading. The Bad/The Ugly - I don't have any negative comments. 3) Relationship: Here's another instance where my usual "Sizzle Or Fizzle" question isn't appropriate. It's easy to see how Alex became so enamored with Cole though. In the beginning, he was so sweet and attentive, wanting to know everything about her and even going so far as to memorize her poem that she wrote. That's the Cole that Alex remembered every time he hurt her, which is part of the reason it was so hard for her to walk away. I have to confess; what I really wanted to happen was for her best friend, Zack, to come in and sweep her off her feet, declaring his love for her. I also knew that it was highly unlikely because they had known each other so long. He was more like a protective brother trying to watch out for her well-being. 4) Uniqueness Of Plot: Quite a few authors have tackled stories of abuse but I think Jennifer Brown did a great job in this case, shedding light on a very serious topic. For me it was very reminiscent of something Jodi Picoult would pen, and I mean that as the highest form of flattery; she is one of my very favorite authors and I think with Hate List and Bitter End, Jennifer has certainly proven that she's on the same playing field. 5) Final Thoughts: This book grabbed me from the first page and refused to let go. I think I was able to connect more with the story because I have been through some of it before, but I really believe everyone will be able to just fall in love with it and easily relate to the characters. Hopefully this book will not only enlighten others about abuse but maybe empower those that are abused to seek help.
graceschumann on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a very emotional and evocative novel that had me clenching my teeth. It was so inescapably realistic that every emotion the main character Alex was experiencing, I could feel too. Bitter End turned out to be a hard-hitting novel about the problem of domestic abuse and it was an eye-opener. I would say it's even better than But I Love Him by Amanda Grace since these are similar books that came out around the same time and I thought that was an emotional rollercoaster of a book.Full Review to come later today!
callmecayce on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I picked this up because I loved Brown's first novel, Hate List, and I wasn't disappointed. As with her previous book, Brown takes an extremely tough subject (an abusive relationship in Bitter End) and tackles it head on. Her second novel is about Alex, a senior in high school who falls for (and in love with) a boy named Cole, who turns out to be the worst kind of boyfriend. Bitter End is a struggle to get through, not because it's poorly written or boring because it's not, but instead because as you read, you feel very strongly for Alex. One of the things I liked about the novel is the fact that you get a glimpse of what Alex's life was like before she starts dating Cole. Abusive relationships, like the school shooting in Hate List, are serious and terrifying and Brown does an extraordinary job writing about these situations in ways that anyone (adult or teen) can identify with. You feel all of Alex's pain and fears along with the worries of her friends and family. Bitter End is a moving novel and I think it serves a lot of purposes. Of course, all books are written to entertain us in some way, and Brown's writing is good and Alex's voice is very real. But the book is more than that. A few weeks ago, there was a #yasaves trend on twitter and I think Bitter End could definitely be one of those books. The subtle way that Brown writes the changes in Alex and Cole's relationship might help other teens. And along those lines, Brown has included a short Q&A and help numbers, should teens need it. I highly recommend Bitter End, especially if you enjoyed Hate List. I can't wait to read more of Brown's books.
amusingmother on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have been looking forward to Jennifer Brown's next novel since I read Hate List. Brown's best writing quality is her uncanny ability to get into the head of a character in an unthinkable situation. Hate List proved this.This time, Brown took on the character of a girl who is physically abused by her boyfriend. Knee-jerk reaction is that a person who continues to return to an abusive man must be weak or have a lot of issues with self-esteem which would be easy to judge if one didn't understand the abuse cycle which includes gaining trust, alienation of others, abuse, sorrow, honeymoon and so on. Brown does an exceptional job with Alex's character as she is attracted to Cole, sports superstar and beautiful specimen who tells her how beautiful and perfect she is no matter what she does. But, like a good abuser, Cole has jealousies. He can't stand to see Alex with anybody else but himself. Alex feels caught yet strangely adored and starts to make sacrifices. She's in love with Cole. She loves Cole. Cole loves her. The changes in her social scene are subtle and slow but definite.The abuse doesn't start as definite, though. It's a grip that's a little too tight that leaves welts, a small act of cruelty accompanied with complete apathy then builds from there. When someone sacrifices so much for a relationship, admitting the abuse would be a bitter pill to take. Brown also includes the familial connection.Very well written and researched. Excellent book for teenage girls.
abigailyow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Having enjoyed the author's first book, I was really looking forward to reading Bitter End. And I have to say, even if it wasn't as good as Hate List, I still found it to be an enlightening read.Bitter end is about Alex, a girl, who falls in love with Cole, an attractive boy from high school. Everything seems to be perfect for this couple, that is, until Cole starts to show his true colours...The subject of domestic violence has always been an intriguing issue for me, for I've always wondered why the victim of such relationship, would not get out of it. One of the most important thing I've learnt here is that the victim just can't feel anything but helplessness. For instance, you love that person but you also hate him. You want to leave him; and you want to stay with him. Everything becomes messed up. It's an entirely different matter when one is in an abusive relationship and when one isn't. The obvious distinction remains so.The topic of choice was no doubt interesting but the execution was slightly lacking. I think maybe it's because my expectation for this book was much too high or maybe I'm just comparing it to the author's previous work - which I found to be an excellent read by the way, but regardless, it does not change the fact that the outcome had left me feeling a little disappointed. For one, I did not feel emotionally overwhelmed as I did with Hate List. The characters in 'Bitter End' were flat and sadly forgettable at the same time; and the story kind of dragged on as the author took so long to establish her characters and setting. But again, that's only my opinion.No matter the cons are, I still believe that if you'd like to know more about such issues, this is the book for you then. Fans of Hate List should also read this but just don't expect too much from it.
suz.haugland on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bitter End is a book that will take the reader on a rollercoaster full of emotions, so powerful that it will leave them feeling raw, conflicted, and filled with such awareness that they will find themselves unable to ignore it any longer. This is a novel that I personally feel, every young adult and adult in general, should be reading and the lesson it provides is one that they could greatly benefit from.Jennifer Brown does not hesitate to tell the complicated story of a young girl, Alex, who finds herself in an abusive relationship, dealing with jealousy issues, physical violence, and hurtful words that are just as effective as every pinch endured. Her turn of phrase is excellent if not poetic in a sense and lends itself quite well, to the strong character development and the darker more rich and complex theme of abuse. This is probably one of the most realistic portrayls of domestic abuse in young adult literature, aside from Deb Caletti's more recent novel, Stay.The story does well to illustrate the simple act of falling in love with someone, then realizing later on that they really aren't the person you fell in love with. They came with flaws and sometimes, those flaws possess more of a hurtful nature than a loving quality. So many questions about the inner working's of the main protagonist come to life, because Alex is so convinced that Cole would never hurt her that he could never hurt her. So, when he does, she takes it and she makes excuses for why he did it when there are no excuses. She becomes so alone and even starts to blame herself, most of all. Alex wants to believe with all of her heart, that there is no way possible in the world, that he would ever truly want to hurt her and that every time Cole says he's sorry and that he will change - that he will make up for it - she believes him. He's chipped away so much of who she is, that this is what is left of her at this point in their relationship. Alex is a complex character and I applaud Jennifer Brown for bringing her to life and giving her such a strong and powerful voice big enough to stop the abuse, that's more realistic than any I've read before. Bitter End is a novel that has so much strength and spirit and bravery, that it is almost necessary and probably should be mandatory to read it and learn from it, and to learn how to break the cycle of abuse. It is a cycle and until it's broken, until it's made very clear that it is not going to be tolerated or accepted, it will continue to happen for as long as it can until these young girls and women are strong enough to find a voice loud enough to demand that it stops. It's very clear to me that Jennifer Brown had a clear and concise vision for the story that she wanted to tell and she should be applauded for exposing the horrific and realistic truth about domestic violence and how it can destroy lives and all of the people involved. This is why, I am giving it the full five stars, because it was that compelling and it was that realistic, but most of all it was that important.
DamarisGCR on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bitter End, for me, was a little hard to read. I didn't think it would be so raw and evil as it was. I was bothered by a lot of things that happened to Alex, but this is what made the story very believable.It's girl meets boy, boy and girl fall madly in love, then boy gets a little to controlling. Things like this happen almost every day. Lot's of women get trapped in a relationship where they are constantly beaten, verbally abused, and mentally abused. It's sad, but it does happen. Not just to grown woman, but to young teens as well. And that's exactly what happens to Alex. She never expected to fall in love with Cole. Things were amazing in the beginning and she was riding high in the clouds full of love. Of course the more she got to know Cole and the more time she spent with him she started seeing his true side. He was CRAZY! Cole accused her of doing things behind his back, not loving him enough, lying to him all the time, I mean the list goes on. Out of fear, Alex had no idea what to do. One minute he would hit her, the next he would say sorry and be NORMAL Cole for a while. She fell for every word he fed her. Alex was truly confused and because of it she slowly began to shut people out. She loved Cole, but knew deep down she shouldn't allow him to do these things to her. This could be anyone's child or friend. Even though it was a little hard to read, emotional wise, I am happy I read it. I think all teens and adults should read Bitter End. It's a fiction, but a reality at the same time. I've never been through something like this, but it was very easy for me to put myself in Alex's shoes. Jennifer Brown did a really good job describing certain scenes, that it wasn't hard to have a clear picture in my head.4 out of 5 Stars!
Jessie_Bear on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Alex struggles through an abusive relationship in this psychological portrait. Bitter End reads as an ¿issue¿ or ¿problem¿ young adult novel, and not too much else. Brown found inspiration for this novel from previous academic study, so the textbook case presented here has been researched, if not well presented. Complex issues bombard the reader within the first fifteen pages with exposition sentences such as, ¿That there would always be a hole in my heart where Mom should have been, and if I didn¿t fill it in, I could end up empty and dull, like him.¿ ¿Him¿ refers to the protagonist¿s father. Secondary characters are defined by one or few character traits, such as the ¿Granite-Ass¿ work overseer, the father who only speaks in half sentences, or the abrasive little sister. There are also small narrative errors, such as when Alex doesn¿t see her friends on a Saturday and later refers to it as ¿last night¿ when the day of that conversation has been established as Thursday; hopefully such errors were fixed between the advanced review copy and publication. Alex and Cole¿s turbulent relationship is the focal point of the novel, and defines the entire narrative arc. However, if this ¿issue¿ novel reaches out to or helps at least one young adult, it deserves a place in a lending collection if there are no better alternatives. As such, it is marginally recommended to young adults aged fourteen to seventeen.
Lo5588 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Brown's second novel follows in the footsteps of her first ("Hate List") by tackling a difficult topic: domestic abuse. Everyone hears stories of husbands who beat their wives, but what if it's your boyfriend? And what if you love him more than anyone else and can't stop going back? Brown handles this sensitive subject deftly, resulting in a moving novel that creates an impact without ever veering into the schlock-y. An important read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
(Spoiler Alert) Bitter End was not the best book I have read. I usually enjoy dramatic, youth, love, drama books but it did not get grasp my attention. The plot was predictable, It's senior year in high school and the new cute bad boy starts dating the naive girl, then the boy turns out to be a jerk to her but the girl is blind by first love, and happy ending the girl is fine and back with family and friends. It was kind of hard for me to push to the end. Usually I would get done with a book in a week but this book kind of lacked a sort of element to set is apart from other books. The protagonist Alex was not one of my favorite character. ALex was more simple. She lack experience which made her gullible. She believed everything Cole told her making the reader hate Cole for that. The mystery of what had happened to Alex's mother at a young age made me keep reading. At the beginning of the book the reader learns that Alex has a destination to be because that is the place her mother wanted to go before she passed away. I wanted know what and why had happens to her mother and that is why I kept reading. There was one baffled moment for me at the end. The books sets a strong relationship with Alex and one of her closet friend Zack. Jennifer Brown made me believe that Alex and Zach were going to become more than friends. Though in disappointment it does not happen. It is disappointing because throughout the book the idea of Zach and Alex keeps getting brought up. To close up BItter End is a fair book. I myself wouldn't reread the book again. But is decent enough to be recommended to others who have a taste for drama and power.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Elisha2 More than 1 year ago
I think the book "Bitter End" is very good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like this book cuz it is so deep and finally Alex told everyone what happen. I'm so proud for her.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is really good! I love how the characters r so realistic. Its like I knew them an felt every emotion they were feeling. I highly recomend this book to everyone! Have tissues ready!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was awsome and so...... DEEP. Its totally true how this book was page turning. i love this book. its part of my top 5 favortie books. Big props to Jennifer Brown.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jennifer brown really made you feel how Alex did. This is an amazing book and once you start reading it...you cant put it down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago