Bittersweet is the first Sarah Ockler book I have read and I really enjoyed it, though it was to me equal parts sweet and bitter (just like the title suggests!).
Bittersweet is the story of a girl called Hudson Avery, dubbed the 'Cupcake Queen' of her town Watonka. Hudson had the chance to be a champion ice skater several years ago but she deliberately blew the competition after learning just shortly before she was due to compete that her father was having an affair. In one fell swoop, Hudson's life fell apart. Her parents divorced and her father moved away. She fell out with her best friend. She gave up on her dream of becoming a champion ice skater. Skip to three years later and Hudson is now working in her mother's diner, making all kinds of delicious cupcakes. She spends most of her time working at the diner, hanging out with her new best friend (and only real friend) Dani and looking after her little brother Bug (cutest kid in a book ever!).
Hudson's life is about to change though. She is invited to take part in a skating competition, the winner of which will get $50,000. It's just the chance she has been looking for to escape the confines of her hometown. Hudson has no desire to end up stuck in Watonka. Her mother would like for her to one day take over running the diner but that is not what Hudson dreams of. She begins practicing on a nearby lake in preparation for the competition and literally crashes into Josh Blackthorn, a boy from her school who is the co-captain of her school's ice hockey team. Hudson is immediately taken with Josh and when he asks for her help in teaching him some moves to help on the rink, Hudson agrees right away. However, it is another boy on the team, Will Harper (the other co-captain), who approaches Hudson and asks her to teach the entire hockey team some moves in exchange for some time for her to practice on their indoor rink. Although at first the hockey guys do not take kindly to Hudson's teachings, it is not long before they start to respect her talent, especially when the moves she has taught them help them win their first games in years. Dubbing her 'Princess Pink', Hudson is welcomed into their crowd.
Although Hudson is pining over Josh, who she has become friends with and she is secretly hoping for more, she is drawn into a flirtation with Will, and ends up sort-of dating him. Hudson's friendship with Dani also becomes strained when she starts spending so much time practicing and hanging out with the hockey team. She finds herself not spending as much time with Bug and she resents her mother for making her work so many hours at the diner. Hudson must decide where her priorities lie and just what dream she is really chasing.
First the 'sweet' parts:
Hudson - I loved Hudson and thought she was a realistic and relatable main character. I felt for her and could understand the frustration she was feeling even if she could be a little bratty and clueless at times.
Josh (sigh) - Josh was a really great love interest. He was nice, funny and genuine. No bad boy here - just a sweet normal guy. I could see why Hudson was practically swooning over him.
Bug - I love Bug so much. I would love to have a little brother just like him. He is seriously adorable!
The cupcake recipes (pure torture) - these sounded absolutely amazing - I think I gained calories just from reading about them though!
The hockey team - love them and the way they take in Hudson. This girl has been severely lacking a social life and it was good to see her part of their crowd and the teasing and bickering that came with that.
Now the 'bitter' parts:
Hudson's mother - I got that she was really stressed and was just trying her best to provide for her kids and keep her business afloat but she really piled too much pressure on her daughter and I could totally get why Hudson was chafing under it.
Dani - I loved her at the start but got more and more annoyed with her as the story wore on. I understand that she felt neglected by Hudson but it just seemed like she took the hump way too easily.
Will - I actually liked Will but he was totally wrong for Hudson and I felt like giving her a shake. She clearly wanted to be with Josh but she just fell into a relationship with Will (albeit a brief one). I wanted more Josh and Hudson so this was frustrating for me.
The ending - I loved the resolution don't get me wrong but it just kind of ended. I wanted...more I guess ****spoiler begins****I had been waiting for Hudson to just get with Josh already the whole book so I loved that they got together at the end but there wasn't enough build up for me and I would have liked to see a little more than we actually got****spoiler ends****.
Overall I really did enjoy the book, even though there were some frustrating bits to get through. I will definitely be reading Twenty Boy Summer, Fixing Delilah and the rest of Sarah Ockler's books at some point in the near future.