Bitter End by Jennifer Brown
Publisher:  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Published  May 10th 2011
Hardcover, 359 pages
Challenges:  100 Books in 2011

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.

Bitter End is a novel that stands out from the norm, tackling a subject that is unfortunately all too common today: abuse in relationships. As the book synopsis points out, Cole turns into an abuser.  Reading this novel, armed with this knowledge you find yourself pointing out all these little clues the come up in the first part of the book.  While you want to scream at Alex for not picking up these clues it becomes clear that if you did not have prior knowledge of Cole’s ‘true’ character, you would not see these clues either.  Unfortunately, this is very true of many abusers – Cole is very charming, good looking, athletic, and smart.  He showers Alex with affection and understanding in the beginning of the book (minus his reactions to Zack, Alex’s best friend).  You can’t help but like him a little.

“His eyes, searching deep into mine, felt like danger and safety all rolled into one.”  

It is hard to not feel for Alex, but also for Cole.  Obviously, as Alex is the one being abused, you want to protect her and you want others to stand up for her.  Cole, while he is the abuser, also has no one to help him.  While his abuse inexcusable you really wish that someone would step in to help him, and Alex. 

While abuse should never be acceptable, Bitter End really shows that it is not always black and white.  Jennifer Brown has created very real and believable characters and situations.  While Bitter End is an amazing novel, one that speaks truth, it is not for everyone.  There were many times it was hard for me to continue reading the novel, only because the scenes were real, in every way – physically and emotionally.  For those that are willing to delve into a gruesome yet wonderful read, Bitter End is your pick!

My Rating:
** Disclosure: I received this book from The {Teen} Book Scene in exchange for an honest review.