3 out of 5 stars
Can a Summer Romance Formula book be set in the dead of winter? Just substitute snow for sunshine, parkas for bikinis, and freeze the large body of water and you've got Bittersweet. :) This book was decent, maybe not quite as good as Twenty Boy Summer (I like that they have similar covers), but I enjoyed it.
Hudson is a 16 year old girl living in upstate New York (I think, very close to the Canada border) with her mom and younger brother, Bug. Her dad left them 4 years before, leading Hudson to quit her promising figure skating career. Now she's working in her mom's diner, baking cupcakes. Oh man, the cupcakes. Each chapter is titled with a new cupcake recipe, such as "vanilla cupcakes topped with whipped peanut butter cream cheese icing, milk chocolate chips, crushed pretzels, and a drizzle of warm caramel." Trust me, you are going to want cupcakes after reading this book! My stomach is actually growling as I'm writing this review lol. If you are lucky enough to have a Sprinkles store nearby, I say go there before starting this book!
(Mini red velvet cupcakes on top of their
handmade ice cream. Neeeeed!!)
Hudson is great at the cupcake biz, but her real passion (she thinks) is still figure skating. She starts going to a local lake on her breaks and skating again. She has to hide it from her mom though, because skating was her dad's thing with her and she has a lot of guilt over it sort of breaking up her parents' marriage. While skating one day, she (literally) runs into cute hockey player Josh and somehow agrees to help him with his skating, which turns into helping the entire hockey team. There is a bit of a love triangle between Josh and fellow hockey captain, Will. Ockler kind of set it up so that Hudson could fall for either boy, which was a little odd. Almost like she maybe wanted to do a sequel, but didn't/couldn't? I won't spoil it, but there is the appropriate amount of crushing and swooning here. :)
No matter what happens next, I'm not letting this turn into another two weeks of silence, the entire history of us summed up in a series of near misses and almosts just because neither of us had the snowballs to say anything.
Hudson's relationship with her mom was one of my least favorite parts of the book, while the interactions with her brother were some of my favorite parts. Mom's dream was to own a diner and she's doing it, but barely. It's not Hudson's dream though. She seems very oblivious to what's going on in her teenage daughter's life, aside from the impact it has on the diner. She expects Hudson to do the cupcake biz and waitress when they have to cut back on expenses and also basically help raise Bug, all while going to school still. Bug, on the other hand, is adorable. Eight years old and a little precocious, he likes to investigate the mail for suspicious powders and figure out the logistics of how Santa could get to all the houses in one night.
When Hudson gets a chance to reinvent herself in the skating world, she decides to take it. Even though it means lying to her mom, flaking out on her brother and best friend Dani, letting her grades slip, and generally making a mess of things. Honestly, she is not an easy person to like. The whole book kind of reminds me of a younger version of the 90s movie, The Cutting Edge. (Great movie, if you haven't seen it. The toe pick scene is my favorite!) Hudson has to decide if skating is really what she wants to do or if she's maybe just fooling herself. And how is her mom going to react when she finds out? (I'm sure you can guess.) Overall, a decent book that leaves you wanting cupcakes and hot chocolate (even though it's 90 degrees here!)