Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bitter End - Jennifer Brown - Blog Tour Review

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.
Synopsis taken from goodreads.

Title: Bitter End
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: May 10, 2011
Format: ARC
Source: Received from publicist. Many thanks goes to Little, Brown and Company for sending me a copy of this book for review. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review. 
Tour: Teen Book Scene. You can follow along with the tour here, or by clicking through the banner located below the review. 
Look for it: Amazon, Book Depository
My rating: 4.5/5

Alex has felt like she's been alone all her life. Her mother died when she was younger, and her father is a husk of his former self. Her sister's both have lives of their own, and her friends don't seem to understand. Not completely. When she meets Cole for the first time, something sparks, and they seem to just get each other. It's like Cole knows Alex, really knows her, and she jumps at the chance to date him. Cole might be a little touchy, but he's only got her best interests at heart. He loves her so much, and he can't help it when he snaps. Alex needs to make a decision though, hopefully before it is too late. Will she be able to do it? 
I am full of mixed emotions with this read. It is an emotionally trying read, and I felt distraught over Alex's decisions, and the abuse she suffered at the hands of someone who claims to have loved her. She is so realistic, and as much as I was railing at her to speak up and get help, I also sympathized with her need for love. She craved Cole's attention, and he played upon her sympathies, preying on her so that she'd fall back into his arms, knowing that he may be sorry now, but he would get angry again and forget about his promises not to hit her again. She needed that connection with someone, of someone truly getting her, and even though he was abusing her, she still couldn't break away from him and get the help she needed. Her relationship with her friends faltered, and try as she might, she couldn't seem to find a happy medium. 
Cole is not all bad. He has his good points, and it is easy to see why Alex fell for him initially. He has a hard background, and it ends up defining him, but at the beginning he was a really good guy. When he finally lets his guard down and starts to show Alex the 'real' Cole, things end up taking a turn for the worse. He attempts to show us that there is good and bad in everyone, but there is a time when the bad outweighs the good. Unfortunately for Alex, she loves him, even through everything he has put her through, and her self-esteem plummets to an all-time low. His character is one that brings out intense emotions in the reader as he continues to carry on the family tradition of abuse. He's an easy character to hate, once we find out what he is capable of, and what he continues to inflict on others around him. 
Zack, Bethany, and Georgia all have pivotal roles as they try to help Alex, but Alex needs to be the one to make a decision. They can't make it for her. They all were realistic and complex individuals, and they looked out for Alex even though she may have felt abandoned by everyone. 
All in all, this is a thought-provoking read into the mindset of someone who has been battered, and it also shows how hard it is for someone to get out of such a relationship. Though not as emotionally hard-hitting as Hate List, this is still a topic that needs recognition, and Brown does an incredible job of portraying a relationship between an abuser and the abused. Relationships are complex, and sometimes the life you know is easier than the life you don't, even if it means that the choice you end up making is a dangerous one. This read is definitely highly recommended. 

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