From the author of Twenty Boy Summer, a teen pushes the limits to follow her dreams—and learns there’s a fine line between bitter and sweet....
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....
About the Author
Sarah Ockler is the bestselling author of #scandal, The Book of Broken Hearts, Bittersweet, Fixing Delilah, and Twenty Boy Summer. Her books have received numerous accolades, including ALA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults, Girls’ Life Top 100 Must Reads, Indie Next List, and nominations for YALSA Teens’ Top Ten, and NPR’s Top 100 Teen Books. She lives in Washington with her husband, Alex. Visit her at SarahOckler.com and find her on Twitter and Facebook.
Read an Excerpt
Dark chocolate cupcakes with red peppermint mascarpone icing, edged with chocolate and crushed candy canes
In three years of baking for Hurley’s Homestyle Diner in Watonka, New York, I’ve never met a problem a proper cupcake couldn’t fix. And while I haven’t quite perfected the recipe to fix my father, I’m totally on the verge.
“Taste this.” I pass a warm cupcake across the prep counter to Dani and lick a gob of cherry-vanilla icing from my thumb. “I think it’s the one.”
My best friend sighs. “That’s what you said about the blueberry lemon batch. And the white mocha ones. Have you seen this thing walkin’ around behind me? It’s the Great Cupcake Booty of Watonka.” She turns and shakes it, a few corkscrew curls springing loose from the pile on her head.
“Last one. I promise.”
“Nice breakfast. You’re lucky I … mmmph … oh my God!” Her copper-brown eyes widen as she wolfs down a big bite.
“I used half the sugar this time and buttercream instead of cream cheese. Doesn’t compete with the cherry as much.”
“Whatever you did, it’s delish.” She wipes her hands on an apron and goes back to prepping for our open, topping off small glass pitchers of maple syrup. I love baking at the diner on Saturday mornings, especially when Dani’s on first shift. There’s something peaceful about it—just the two of us here in the stainless steel kitchen, radio on low, the hiss-pop-hiss of the big coffeemakers keeping us company while the winter sky goes from black to lavender to a cool, downy gray.
I rinse the mixing bowls and set them back on the counter, rummaging through my stash for the next batch: eggs, butter, raw cane sugar, cocoa powder, heavy cream, espresso, shaved dark chocolate, a handful of this, a sliver of that, no measuring required. Every cupcake starts out a blank canvas, ingredients unattached to any shared destiny until I turn on the mixer. Now Dani stands on her toes to see into the bowl and together we watch it swirl, streaks of white and pale yellow and black, electric beaters whirring everything into a perfect brown velvet.
“You really are an artist, Cupcake Queen.” Dani smiles, hefting the tray of syrups onto her shoulder and pushing through the double doors into the dining room.
Cupcake Queen. I owe the newspaper for that one. “Teen’s Talent Turns Struggling Diner into Local Hot Spot: Cupcake Queen Wows Watonka with Zany Creations,” by Jack Marshall, staff reporter. The article’s preserved in a crooked glass frame on the wall behind the register, right next to an autographed black-and-white photo of Ani DiFranco and three one-dollar bills from Mom’s first sale as the new owner. You can see it clearly if you’re sitting at the front counter in the seat on the far left—the one with the torn leatherette that pokes the back of your thighs—if you lean over and squint. I don’t need to squint, though. I’ve read it so many times I can recite it backward. Creations zany with Watonka wows queen cupcake: spot hot local into diner struggling turns talent teen’s.
I never set out to wow Watonka with zany creations or join the royal court of confectioners. When I first started inventing my cupcakes, it was just something to keep me and Bug—that’s what I call Max—from going nuts after Dad moved to Nevada. Whenever we’d start to miss him, I’d lure Bug into the kitchen, and together we’d dig through the pantry for stuff to bake into funny little desserts with made-up names and frosting faces. We’d bring the best ones to the diner for Mom to share with the waitresses and Trick, her cook. Soon the regulars at the counter were sampling them, wanting to know when they’d be on the menu, when they could order a few dozen for their next bridge club party. Somewhere between my first batch of custom Bug-in-the-Mud Cakes and now, somewhere between leaving competitive skating and looking for a place to hide out, somewhere between Dad’s departure and Mom finding the strength to get out of bed again, baking cupcakes became a part of me—both a saving grace and a real, moneymaking job.
Staff reporter Jack Marshall didn’t ask about any of that stuff, though.
My gaze drifts out the window to the snow falling beneath the lights in the back lot. It’s so gray and nondescript outside that I could be anywhere, anytime, and for a second the blankness is so complete that I lose track of the hour and forget where I am. Everything is flip-flopped, like the opposite of déjà vu.
“Hudson?” Dani’s voice over the whir of the mixer brings me back. Saturday morning. Twenty-ninth of November. Cupcake day.
“Sorry. I kinda spaced.”
“Yeah, I kinda noticed.” She pulls up a tall metal stool and sits next to me at the prep counter. “So, are we gonna talk about your dad’s e-mail, or—”
“Not.” I recited parts of his latest missive over the phone last night, but here in the Hurley’s kitchen, separated from the rest of the world by the double doors and a blanket of new snow on the roof, I’m not in the mood.
“It is pretty jackass of him, if you ask me … even though you’re not.” She picks up a batter-covered spoon and licks off all the chocolate. “Like you really want to hear about your father’s romantic escapades with—”
“Yeah, exactly, thanks.” I lift the bowl and scrape the batter into silicone cups, filling each one three-quarters precisely. “I’m so done with his soul-mate-of-the-month crap.”
“Did he call her his soul mate?” she asks.
“Who moves to Vegas and falls in love with a female Elvis impersonator? Hello, walking cliché.”
I know I should ask him to squash the oversharing, but honestly? Hearing about his special lady friends is better than the alternative. First few months in Vegas? Total radio silence. Now? Let the e-mails flow. Sometimes I wonder if it’s the women in his life pushing him to be a better father. “Your children need to be part of your life. Reach out to them.” Ick. Like I really want Dad to “reach out” over our respective love lives. And by respective, I mean serial (his) and nonexistent (mine).
“Maybe she’s all right,” Dani says. “You don’t—”
“Anyone who goes by Shelvis is clearly not all right.”
“I thought it was Sherylynn or something.”
“Sherylanne. Shelvis is her stage name. She’s on tour this month,” I say, making air quotes around “tour.” “So instead of visiting us, Dad’s using his vacation time to follow her all over the southwest.” That’s the part I didn’t recite last night. I kept hoping it was a joke.
Dani crinkles her nose. “Gross.”
“Seriously gross. It’s the fourth Shelvis-related e-mail this week.”
“Any pictures?” she asks. He sent pictures of the last one—Honey or Candy or something like that—and Dani and I spent the entire weekend on Photoshop, giving her a handlebar mustache and snakes for hair.
I slide the baking cups into the oven and wipe my hands on a dish towel. “I think we can use our imaginations.”
“What about video? Now that I’d pay to see.” Dani clears her throat and breaks into a frightening version of “Love Me Tender.”
See, some people politely encourage their tone-deaf friends to sing. Some people even convince them to go on live television and audition for national competitions. But me? I am not that friend. Especially since Dani’s parents are, like, jazz virtuosos—mom sings, dad plays trumpet. You’d think she’d pick up on the fact that her voice lacks that certain something … called … being in tune.
“I thought we already established that your parents’ genes totally skipped you,” I say.
“They didn’t skip me. Mom says I’m just underdeveloped. I’m pretty sure Whitney Houston was the same way before she vocally matured.”
“Gotcha. Have another cupcake, Whit.” I slide the plate of experiments across the counter and load my spent bowls into the giant dishwasher.
I’ve got enough cupcakes in the oven, so I stick the remaining experiments in the front bakery case and help Dani with her sidework: wiping the menus, rolling silverware into napkins, and setting out metal trays of cut veggies for Trick. In an effort to feel slightly less guilty about our sugar-sweet breakfast, we take five at the prep counter and dine on some fruit salad. Dani recites saucy passages from a novel with a half-naked pirate on the cover as I watch the snow swirl outside, and the entire restaurant fills with the warm, chocolaty scent of fresh-baked cupcakes.
“The calm before the storm,” Dani says, closing her book and glancing up at the clock. “Another hour, this place will be a hot mess.”
“Don’t act like you don’t love it. You’re a front-of-the-house whore and you know it.”
Dani wiggles her eyebrows. “You should try it. I could teach you all the tricks.”
“I’ll stick to baking. It relaxes me.” I pull my cupcakes out of the oven and arrange them on wire cooling racks. “How sad is it that the crack of dawn in the Hurley’s kitchen is the only time I can get any peace and—”
“Morning, girls!” Mom rushes in through the back door with my little brother and a blast of cold air. “I just heard the weather report—we’re expecting a storm later.”
“Snowed in at the diner! Yes!” Bug pumps his fist, voice muffled by a thick red scarf. His tortoiseshell glasses are all fogged up, so I can’t see his eyes.
I kiss the top of his fuzzy blond head and tug off his backpack and jacket. “Winter in Watonka, Mom. Not a big mystery.”
“No, just a busy night ahead, and we’re already short-staffed.” Mom pulls off her hat, her gray-blond hair crackling with static. “Marianne’s out of town till tomorrow, Nat’s studying for finals, and I’m not sure Carly’s ready for more than two tables at a time.” Her trademark sigh is laced through every word, and I sag when it lands on my shoulders. That blue-and-white sign with the picture of the fork and knife on the I-190, just before the Watonka exit? Well, that’s us—first fork and knife off the highway. Bad weather hits, and all the just-passing-through folks in the world end up in our dining room. There goes my Saturday night.
“Nothing we can’t handle,” Dani says. “We’ll just—”
“Mom, can I inspect the mail?” Bug asks. He fingers the envelopes sticking out of Mom’s overstuffed purse. “I brought my lab gear.”
“Sure, baby. Use my office.” She hands over her purse and hangs their coats in the staff closet as Bug skips into the windowless room at the back of the kitchen. “Where’s the omelet setup?”
“Already done.” Dani hops up from the counter and shows mom the veggies, right where we always put them.
“Ma, chill. We’re fine,” I say. “It’s not even time to open.”
Dani and I follow her to the dining room. In flawless, unbroken succession, she pours herself a coffee, starts a fresh pot, checks all the sugar dispensers, and gives the counter an unnecessary wipe-down with a wet paper towel.
You can take the waitress out of the diner … but then she comes back and buys the joint.
“Know what you need?” I ask.
“A winning lotto ticket and a vacation? Preferably someplace tropical, no kids allowed?” She sits on a maroon leatherette stool next to Dani, rests her elbows on the counter, and sips her coffee.
“We’re fresh out of lotto tickets.” I take one of my experimental cupcakes from the case and put it on a pink-trimmed plate. “New recipe. As the owner, you’re obligated to try it.”
“They’re amazing,” Dani says. “She’s on a roll lately.”
“Don’t have to convince me, darlin’.” Mom smiles and carves out a piece with a fork. After the first bite, she loses the cutlery and dives in with her fingers, just the way you’re supposed to.
“They’re called Cherry Bombs,” I tell her after she inhales the last of it.
“Baby, you’re some kinda genius. Love them. And you.” She pecks my cheek and drops her dishes in the bus bin underneath the counter.
“I have a bunch more cooling,” I say, untying my apron. “I’ll be back later to frost.”
“You’re going on break? But the snow, and—”
“Ma, I’ve been in the kitchen all morning. I’m just going for a walk. I’ll be back before the rush, then I can help wherever you guys need me. Okay?” I grab the bus bin with her dishes and bump open the kitchen doors with my hip.
“Okay,” she calls after me. “Say bye to Bug first. Mrs. Ferris is picking him up in an hour.”
“Hudson!” Bug flashes a gap-toothed grin from behind his makeshift crime lab in Mom’s office, a pair of sandwich bags zipped over both hands. In one, he’s holding a white envelope; in the other, a half-eaten candy cane with a cotton ball rubber-banded to the end of it.
To my early morning eyes, it appears he’s dusting our mail for fingerprints, but you can’t always tell with Bug.
I set my backpack on the floor and plop down in the chair across from him. “Looking for evidence?”
“Nope.” He slides the glasses up his nose with the back of his wrist and rubs the envelope with the candy cane. “Anthrax. I’m at a critical juncture.”
Critical juncture? Sure. What eight-year-old isn’t?
“Find anything interesting?” I ask.
“No powdery residue. But definitely suspicious. Smell.” He slides a makeup catalog from beneath a microscope made out of a plate, a toilet paper roll, and an intricate arrangement of pipe cleaners. “Any ideas?”
I take a scientific whiff. “Gardenia. Looks like those Mary Kay terrorists are at it again.”
“Don’t laugh. Your stuff is on the ‘highly suspicious’ list, too.” He pulls a bright yellow, junk mail–looking envelope from the stack and busts out his game show face. “Hudson Avery, You’re Future Is Closer Than You Think.”
“My future? Hmm. Working at Hurley’s is pretty dangerous.”
Bug sighs. “Don’t be so literal. They spelled ‘your’ wrong. It’s one of the signs.”
“Of stupidity?” I’ve asked Mrs. Ferris—our downstairs neighbor, landlady, and chief Bug-sitter—not to let him watch the news. Ever since they busted that terror cell a few blocks over, it’s like CSI Watonka in our house. Last month he told me he was installing metal detectors for the bathroom and that starting this summer, I’d need a government-issued ID just to pee. “Hey, I’m sure Mom appreciates your vigilant counterterrorism efforts, but try not to waste the Ziplocs. They’re expensive.”
“It’s cool. I recycle.” He flings the anthrax-detecting candy cane into the trash along with a red envelope from the gas company. Miraculously, my grammatically incorrect letter and Mom’s makeup catalog get a pass.
“I need this.” I dig the bill from the trash and slit open the envelope, even though I already know what it says: THIS IS YOUR FINAL NOTICE BEFORE SHUTOFF. Mom made a partial payment last month, but technically the gas bill’s mine—trade-off for keeping the cupcake profits—and there’s still a balance due. I’ll have to stop by the service center again this week. They probably have my picture on the wall, like those people in department stores who write bad checks. Beware of Hudson Avery, master groveler and avoider of late fees great and small!
“What are you doing now?” Bug asks as I slip the bill into my backpack. “Wanna play Special Victims Unit? You can be the victim this time.” He’s out of the chair before I can answer.
“Sorry, bud. I have to run out for a while.”
He frowns, tiny glasses slipping back down his nose.
“Don’t be sad.” I kneel in front of him so we’re the same height and squeeze his shoulders. Beneath my hands, his bones feel small and hollow like a bird’s; I resist the urge to zip him up in my jacket.
“How about we hang out tonight—just you and me. I’ll bring home some extra cupcakes.” I push his glasses back up and lower my voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “I’ll let you stay up late, too. Sound like a date?”
“Hmm.” He considers my bribe. “Four cupcakes, and I stay up until midnight.”
“I was thinking two and ten thirty.”
He hefts my backpack off the floor and hands it over. “I was thinking three and eleven, and I won’t tell Mom you’re ice-skating again.”
“What? I’m not—”
“I saw you cleaning the skates in your room last night, Hud. I’m not stupid.”
Like I needed the reminder.
I swing the bag over my shoulder, skates kicking me hard in the back. “Three and eleven it is, Detective Avery. Just remember the number one rule of good police work: Never rat out your sources.”
His eyes go wide. “Don’t say ‘rat’! You’ll give Mr. Napkins a complex!”
I grab his arms. “Please tell me you didn’t bring your hamster to the diner.”
“He’s at home, but that’s not the point. Just don’t say the R-word. It offends me.”
“Sorry. Don’t narc on your sources.”
“No narcing. Got it.” He pulls a pen and a spiral notepad from the piles on the desk and makes a note. “Hey, don’t forget your letter.” He stretches to reach the yellow envelope and gives it a closer look. “What’s a foundation, anyway?”
“Oh, like a charity. Some gajillionaire sets them up to help a good cause. Why? Rich old uncle Mom forgot to mention?”
He inspects the return address. “Not unless his name is Uncle Lola.”
“Uncle who?” My throat goes dry, and I cough to clear the knot from it.
Bug scrunches up his face and checks again. “Lola Cap … Cap-something.”
“Capriani?” I whisper. It can’t be her.
“Whoa—you know a gajillionaire?”
“Yes. I mean, no. I used to … I knew her before. A long time ago.” I take the envelope from my brother, ignoring the tremor in my fingers. My stomach twists when I see her name, all fancy black script on canary-colored paper.
“Who is it?” Bug asks.
I crush the letter in my hand. “Lola Capriani was my skating coach.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Hockey, cupcakes and a love story! What's not to like? I loved this book. It was my first Sarah Ockler novel and I have to say I cannot wait to read the others she has written and whatever else is to come. Great story and better yet great cupcake ideas! If you plan on reading this book get some cupcakes first because with a recipe at the start of every chapter you will sure want a little dessert with your love story. Now usually my favorite part of any story is the romance or love story. However in this novel the relationship that captured my heart was between Hudson and her little brother Bug. Probably because Bug is what I call my son. There relationship reminded me somewhat of my son and I. Baking is our thing. Also my son is a huge hockey fan. This book just seemed to have so much more in it for me than just the love story. I would highly recommend reading this book. However like I stated before make sure you have some cupcakes to go with your love story!
Hudson was such a likeable character for me. She was witty and sarcastic, and she wasn't afraid to stand up to the hockey team (although she was afraid to talk to her mom about stuff). My heart broke for her in the first chapter when she realizes that her life is going to change due to her parents' divorce. Her thoughts were the same ones I had when my parents decided to split. I also really understood her feelings of frustration at having to step in to be the "parent" with her little brother and also remembering to pay bills. I imagine it's so hard to be a single parent, and having a teenager who is mature can almost feel like having another adult. But I felt like Hudson just had so many responsibilities that she shouldn't have been in charge of, such as paying the electric bill and the babysitter. I absolutely adored Bug, Hudson's little brother. He was geeky and smart and just super loveable. The romance in this story was cute and wasn't insta-love, which is always a huge plus. And again, loved Hudson's ability to stand up for herself and not be a doormat. If you're looking for a quick read that's the perfect book for winter, then you need to read Bittersweet!
Amazing book worth the buy!
So I will willingly admit that i am a lover of cute romance books, but this one had me smiling through each chapter and seriously craving cupcakes The book is cute fast and really relatable Hope you enjoy : )
This book reminded me of Disney movies. It was full of moments that could have been scripted for a T.V film. There was a familiarity to the story line that reminded me of a couple of films, 'Ice Princess' and another Disney movie, 'Go Figure' They both dealt with ice-skaters and 'Go Figure' had both an ice-skater and a ice hockey team as well, only the plot with 'Bittersweet' is definitely different in this case. 'Bittersweet' is a kind of feel-good book, even though the main character, Hudson, is going through the worst moments of her young life. Funnily enough, she hides her pain in cupcakes. I really liked how this story progressed. It took me from the incident that made Hudson turn her back on everything she knew, to Hudson finally realizing what made her happy. I enjoyed her persona and even felt a little sorry for her mother seemed to hassle her. The other characters in this book was good too - including an adorable love interest in Josh. The relationships between the characters felt real. It was also hard to see how some of the friendships changed and evolved as I was reading. I was annoyed, angry and a little sad at how Hudson was with some of them. But, at the same time, I also resented Hudson's mom a bit, even though I came to understand why she was that way. The writing was fun and flowed nicely. This is the type of book to read if you've just finished a book that was intense or if you just want to relax after a hard day where you don't really want to think about anything. So it's fair to say that even though I don't have anything really bad to say about 'Bittersweet', it didn't have the 'oomph' that made me fall in love with it. I didn't go on to remember anything about it, except that Hudson made cupcakes and she was an ice-skater. That being said though, I did like it and I would read it again if I had the option. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes Disney films or is looking for a light read. Book review written by Sandy from Magical Manuscripts.
I love this book it has a great ending!
K, im 12 and dont know if i should read this book i really want to but dont know if it contains older reading material, so should i????!
Bittersweet takes us into the life of Hudson Avery, former figure skater and current Cupcake Queen. She lives in a small town and is bursting to get out and explore the world. But what is she willing to sacrifice and who is she willing to push out of her life to make her dreams come true? And are they really her dreams or is she feeling nostalgic for her seemingly perfect past?My first Sarah Ockler book! I have Twenty Boy Summer on my bookshelf but haven't read it and after reading Bittersweet, I bought Fixing Delilah for my kindle. I love Sarah's writing style. It was like the words came off the pages and enveloped me. And oh my goodness, the description of the cupcakes at the beginning of each chapter made me crave cupcakes like no other!Now on to the actual book part! :) I really really enjoyed getting to know Hudson. She was a little selfish, but hey, what 16 year old girl isn't? Am I right? There were times when I wanted to wring her neck and other times when I just felt so bad for her and wanted to tell everyone else to JUST BACK OFF and let her be a teenager! I couldn't imagine trying to juggle all of the things that she does. There's a bit of a love triangle, but I was okay with it. Mainly because I could see how it was a natural part of the plot. It didn't feel forced and worked well.Now. I will say that I had one huge huge huge huge huge problem with the book. The technical aspect of the figure skating was just so wrong. Soooo wrong. Ms. Ockler states in her Acknowledgement that there were probably some technical mistakes and she apologizes for them but still. To an untrained eye, I'm sure that the mistakes would have gone unnoticed - ignorance is bliss and all that jazz - but for this former figure skater (me), there were mistakes that I just could not believe! Some of the things mentioned are open for interpretation for instance, what order a skater would put her jumps in her program (a triple/triple would almost always be first..rarely second), but others are just frankly impossible - a double axel/double lutz combination is not even physically possible - it can not be done! This paragraph makes me sound like I didn't enjoy the book, but the truth is even with its blatant blunders staring me in the face, I actually really liked the book as a whole. If it weren't for the technical mistakes, I would have easily given this book 4 stars.What do you think? Am I being over-critical? I hope not.
My order of preference of Sarah Ockler books seems to be: Twenty Boy Summer, then Fixing Delilah, then Bittersweet. *sigh* What is wrong with me??? BITTERSWEET had a great premise, a unique setting, and even athletes (skating). And yet I wasn't completely charmed in the way that I have to be with books. I liked that BITTERSWEET is about ice skaters and hockey players, but I couldn't get behind the characters. I can understand why Hudson needed to escape her old life after her parents' divorce, but I wasn't a fan of the person she became--or perhaps she was always this way? Hudson often goes into these stream-of-consciousness-like monologues, which, for me, added nothing to the story, and only encouraged me to skim. And once I started skimming, it seemed like I couldn't stop skimming... until I stopped reading altogether.I usually enjoy the romances that Sarah Ockler rights, but again, I couldn't get behind the one(s?) in BITTERSWEET. Was there supposed to be a love triangle? So why was I so utterly lukewarm on both potential guys, and in fact got a creepster vibe from at least one of them? There's no more "insta-love" than sometimes happens in high school when two people exchange glances or collide into one another, but Hudson's meandering monologues left me entirely disconnected from her character development, to the point where I couldn't care less if any guys liked her or not.In short: I really enjoyed BITTERSWEET's setting in a small town on Lake Erie, and I enjoyed the athletic aspect of it, but was never invested enough in the characters and their relationships to be inspired to finish reading.
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...Review:Hudson used to love ice skating and she used to do it professionally until her family broke apart. Now she works at her mom's struggling diner, making sweet custom concoctions...also called cupcakes. When she has another chance at skating she's eager to take it, because the reward is more than she could ever hope for. I really really liked this book. It's actually my favorite of Sarah Ockler's. Hudson has to come to terms with many things in this novel. She tries to juggle, so much, and of course she drops everything. But I think the thing about failing, is that you know where to go afterwards. It's not all dark though...there's a love triangle!!! I am a sucker for love triangles, and I think that Ockler does an amazing job with Hudson's options. Both boys aren't static characters, and you see why Hudson struggles with her choices. Swoon. You really will enjoy this book, it's relatable on so many levels, and it's actually complex, not shallow like some YA books. Novel provided by Pulse It from Simon & Schuster
The beginning...well, it makes you think that this is just a fluff piece of contemporary YA literature. But it's not - don't be fooled. Hudson's world is extremely complex - divorce, guilt, familial duties, and money worries. But most importantly, she's doing a bit of soul-searching...figuring out the all consuming question of "where is my place in the world?"The middle...well, for awhile there I was really mad at Hudson and my view of her slipped lower and lower. Why was she being such an ignoramus about her life? Why was she being such a bad friend...and while I wanted to dislike her - her faults are what make her a real and well-rounded character.The ending...well, the ending is wonderful. It's a reflection of teen life with no ridiculous promises of something beyond reality. Nobody's becoming a superstar or dying a heroic death...it's just authentic.Throughout the story...well, I loved the arc of Hudson's growth that the reader witnesses. Another thing that is magnificent? Each chapter title is named after one of Hudson's cupcake creations followed by a truly delectable description. Want some examples? Good, I'll gladly oblige. How about:Chapter 3: No One Wants to Kiss a Girl Who Smells Like Bacon, So I Might as Well Get Fat Cupcakes..."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"Chapter 7: How to Appear Outwardly Cool While Totally Freaking Out on the Inside Cupcakes..."Chilled vanilla cupcakes cored and filled with whipped vanilla buttercream and dark chocolate shavings, topped with vanilla icing and a sugared cucumber slice"Chapter 23: Liar, Liar, Cakes on Fire..."Chocolate cayenne cupcakes topped with cinnamon cream cheese frosting and heart-shaped cinnamon Red Hots"Y'all, you should seriously check this one out if you're in the mood for a wintery, foodie, contemporary YA novel - you won't be disappointed!
This charming confection of a story features, as the author writes in her Acknowledgments, ¿cupcakes, figure skating, cute hockey boys, and lake-effect snowstorms.¿ It also is about growing up and facing real life, even when you make the wrong choices, and even when life gives you the bitter end instead of the sweet.Hudson Avery, age 17, lives in the small town of Watonka, New York, and dreams of getting out one day by virtue of her skill in figure skating. But it¿s hard to get time to practice, since she has a lot of family responsibilities. Her father left them three years before, and she has a little brother ¿Bug¿ who is only eight. Her mother works ceaselessly at her diner, Hurley¿s, and expects Hudson to help out there whenever she can. Hudson has carved out a niche for herself at the diner, baking killer cupcakes that are so good the press has dubbed her The Cupcake Queen.[Each chapter is named for a cupcake concoction made by Hunter, and includes a description of what is in it. They all sound pretty delectable! You can watch the book trailer, which is basically nothing but cupcakes, appended to the bottom of this post!]Hudson feels like her heart is cracked down the middle. On one side she sees the hurt and regret in her mom¿s face and she wants to stay with her and help her. But the other half of her heart is full of pain about her own future:"¿the right side of my heart looks at the lines in her face and sees the map of my future. Today I take the waitress gig. Next I¿ll be managing the schedule. Then in a few years or a decade or maybe even two, I¿ll inherit the restaurant. Cement my crowning achievement as Beth Avery¿s daughter, the proud-but-struggling new owner and sometimes-cupcake baker of a forgettable old diner off the I-190, a pair of scuffed-up ice skates dangling from a hook in the staff closet, a bittersweet memento of another life.¿Hudson schemes to escape, practicing in secret for a $50,000 scholarship awarded to the most promising local figure skater. She is also approached by the two co-captains of the struggling high school hockey team to help them skate better, and finds herself attracted to both boys. As the story builds to a perfect storm ¿ huge cupcake order, championship hockey game, diner inspection, and ice skating scholarship competition, Hudson needs to decide once and for all which side of her heart will take precedence.Discussion: There is some good characterization in this book: Hudson is very self-absorbed, but still has a good heart. Bug is adorable and by far the best character of the book. Of the two hockey co-captains, Josh is wonderful and Will is slimy, but neither of them is so one-dimensional as to be uninteresting.Evaluation: I was especially pleased by this book, because I loved the author¿s first book, Twenty Boy Summer, and then felt very disappointed by her second, Fixing Delilah. This one makes me feel vindicated in my faith in her as a go-to author for young adult stories.
Summary: 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....Review: Cupcakes, Figure-skating, and Hockey. What a combination - but it works!!!! The format of the book - with cupcakes as chapter headings - how ingenious! The names and descriptions of the cupcake "titles" definitely matched the story-line of each chapter. Bittersweet is such a sweet story - literally - pun intended. You get drawn into each character. Hudson - our protagonist has so much going on in her life - the diner, figure-skating, her family, her friends, the boys - where does she start, and where does she end. She struggles so much to make the right decisions, for herself and for those she cares about. The hockey boys - what a refreshing look. I usually hate athletic boys in stories - so cocky and full of themselves. While there was a little of this, the author showed us a side of them that made me actually like each one. I just loved how so much was wrapped up into this story. It was a quick and easy read, but kept me wanting for more. I could not put it down once I started. I was wrapped up in Hudson's life, that I still feel myself drawn back in and thinking about it.
Disappointing read from a good author. Avery's life is turned up side down when her parents split up and she leaves her life as an exceptional figure skater behind. As she struggles with her father's absence, the loss of her figure skating friends, and her new identity as the "cupcake queen" she must decide if figure skating is her life or was just someone that she used to be. This book could have benefitted from more agressive editing and a more imaginative storyline. The plot is predictable and often difficult to believe. Definitely not Ockler's best work.
I loved Twenty Boy Summer & Fixing Delilah, so I couldn't wait to read Sarah Ockler's next book. This one was a let down for me, though. The writing was beautiful, as always, which is why I gave it three stars. Sarah is brilliant when it comes to her way with words. For me, this book was tough to get through, and I ended up skimming most of the ending. The whole ice skating/hockey thing was too foreign for me, and I felt lost during a lot of it. I didn't relate to Hudson either, as much as I tried. I think I'm probably in the minority, though, and I could see a lot of people loving to curl up on a winter day with this one. I'll be looking forward to Sarah's next book, still!
A tale of self-discovery, friendship and shifting relationships, Bittersweet utterly captivated me. When Hudson Avery botches her chance at professional ice skating, and her parents separate, she becomes the cupcake-making queen of the town. However, despite her success with her tasty, inventive cupcakes and her efforts to help her mother in their diner, the ice continues to beckon her. The main character, Hudson Avery, is the kind of strong yet realistically vulnerable female lead that I like. Throughout this story of self-exploration, this skillfully crafted character shows natural, and often painful, growth. Her inner dialogue is extremely witty and definitely makes for numerous laugh-out-loud moments. Although I generally dislike love triangles, the relationship between Hudson, Will, and Josh moves the story along rather than provide the reader with pages full of romantic angst. Both Josh and Will seem to have a hidden agenda throughout the story and it is only close to the end that the truth about these boys are revealed. The relationships between Hudson and her mother as well as that between her and her best friends, are described in an in-depth, but still entertaining, way. Ambition and corruption play a major role in this book and have a profound influence on all the relationships. The lively, quirky dialogue, enhanced by Hudson's imaginative, dreamy thought patterns, kept me smiling. A wonderful book to relax with, I highly recommend this story of friendship, important choices, exciting moments on the ice and tastefully written romance. (Ellen Fritz)
In this novel by Sarah Ockler, Hudson Avery is a seventeen year old girl struggling to help out her family after her parent's divorce tears it apart. She bakes creative cupcakes for her mother's diner and helps out as often as she can but she can't help thinking about everything that she has left behind in her old life... Before her father cheated on her mother and walked out. Hudson used to know exactly where she was going. She was going to be a professional figure skater that would be able to travel all over the world and enjoy her dreams, but now she is stuck in her small town taking care of a diner she never wanted to have to be in charge of. One day she crashes into the hockey team's captain, Josh Blackthorn, while practicing ice-skating and things begin to take a turn. She is tempted by starting over and having a second chance at her long remembered dream but as she struggles to find time, she begins to split herself too thin and risks losing people along the way. Hudson is a delightful main character whose sense of humor makes the novel. She has hilarious alternate realities in her brain and her creative cupcakes are so charming and inspired. I really loved her as a main character and found her easy to relate to, even when she was doing things that I didn't approve of. Out of the other characters that are introduced in this novel, I think that Hudson's little brother, Bug, is probably my favorite. He is adorably cute and I love his take on the world. Him and Hudson are presented as this great team and I love their interactions. Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and could easily relate to Hudson and the problems she was having and thought her friends and family were treating her a little harsh throughout the novel. But I really understood the confusion Hudson was having over what to do and could easily relate to her problems. I'm giving Bittersweet 4 stars because I flew through it and was completely absorbed in the story but towards the end I was starting to get frustrated with everyone's lack of communication and didn't really see a point to a large amount of the conflict. But overall, I really enjoyed it and wouldn't mind reading it again in the future. I enjoyed how the ending turned out, but for awhile I didn't think it was going to end in a good way so I was nervous for the last couple chapters of the book.
I really thought Bittersweet would continue on the streak of loving every contemporary I've been reading lately, however i'm sad to say that it did not. I am disappointed by Bittersweet since I was expecting something as good as Twenty Boy Summer. However I did enjoy it but I had several issues with it. Hudson, the main protagonist gave up competing professionally in ice skating when she found out her father was cheating on her mom. 3 years later Hudson isn't happy being in her hometown, only making cupcakes at her mom's diner. She secretly starts practicing ice skating for a competition but Josh sees her and asks for her help to teach technical tricks to his hockey team. Now instant sparks fly when Josh and Hudson meet, then insert love triangle. I hate how now every single book is forcing love triangles that make little sense. Also, I really didn't like how Hudson kept on nagging, ignoring her best friend, saying she can't wait to leave her town. I was fooled in thinking this book would be like Ice Princess (2005) movie, however it barely had any ice skating, not even her teaching the hockey team, also not much cupcake making, but a whole lot of whining and complaining. However I really liked Hudson's 8 year old brother, Bug. He was hilarious and a genius! I also really liked how some chapters began with a phrase and a corresponding recipe for a cupcake that matched the mood of the chapter. Bittersweet was a cute but cliched contemporary. I do recommend it to contemporary fans, but just don't compare it to Twenty Boy Summer.
This book is fantastic! I enjoyed every minute of reading it After blowing the biggest skating competition of her career Hudson Avery's parents divorce and she hides herself behind a bowl of cupcake batter. After receiving a letter that could get her out of Watonka (Buffalo) NY she begins training for competition again she ends up skating in to Josh (literally), the hockey team Captain. In exchange for needing private ice time she secretly becomes special techniques coach for the high schools loosing hockey team. Short lived romance with Will the Josh's co-captain leads Hudson to figure out who she really has a thing for. READ THE BOOK to find out the ending! ♥ Cate