Author: Jennifer Brown
Publisher: LB Books for Young Readers
Published: May 10, 2011
Genre: YA, Contemporary
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 understands her and loves her for who she really is.
At first, Alex is blissfully happy. Sure, Cole seems a little jealous of her relationship with her best friends, Zack and Bethany, but what guy would want his girlfriend spending all of her time with another boy? But as the months pass, Alex can no longer ignore Cole's small put-downs, pinches, or 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.
Alex has found the guy of her dreams. He's everything - a star athlete, good looking and absolutely adores her. She can't imagine her life without him, and she has no intention of ever having to do so. There's something else taking hold of her relationship though, too. It's a kind of possessiveness that's foreign to Alex but very familiar to Cole. He doesn't want to have to share her, and he'll do anything to ensure he doesn't have to. Alex doesn't want to lose him, but it's more than that. She's afraid she's begun to lose herself, and she's not sure who she really is, or even was anymore.
I'm not going to dance around this review at all. I usually like to lead into a review and break it down into pieces, but some books make it easy for the reader to understand the book and feel fulfilled from the start. Bitter End was the epitome of a homerun YA contemporary read. Powerful, hard-hitting and extremely realistic, author Jennifer Brown clearly did her research when writing this book. Bitter End presents a story that's fairly common though often in an undercurrent in society, bringing it to a new light with a teenage girl who is vulnerable, yes, but learning to find herself through a maze of abuse.
Bitter End could very easily have been a so-so read. All that had to happen was have an emotionally disconnected main character with no spine and a self-deprecating attitude. Luckily, however, Alex was none of the above. She was a strong girl with the world at her feet, and the terror of her relationship with Cole was that it didn't start with blatant physical abuse. Cole slowly chipped away her armour until he had her in the palm of his hand. By that time, it was so believable that Alex was alone in her world that, as a reader, I could understand why Cole had such a power over her. Bitter End presented a harrowing tale with a main character that broke my heart and slowly helped me piece it back together again...a feat that is hard to find in a lot of the books I read.
I have a habit of looking for flaws in the books I read today, but I have to admit that I couldn't find any in Bitter End. Emotional and raw, I give it a 5 out of 5, and I'd recommend it to all fans of YA, especially those who enjoy contemporary fiction. Fans of Raw Blue will probably find this to be an extraordinary read.