Bitter End by Jennifer Brown. Published by Little, Brown. Read in April, 2011. ARC provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter.
A Fast Five View:
1. I have to admit that I didn’t like Bitter End as much as Hate List (here is my Hate List review). Having said that, I loved Hate List so much, I can’t imagine how Ms. Brown could have topped it. Bitter End is a really great book.
2. Jennifer Brown has a talent for depicting the inner conflict and emotions of teens.
3. It is so easy to see how Alex falls in love with Cole, and how special he makes her feel.
4. So often, when the topic of abuse within a romantic relationship is discussed, people say, “I don’t know how she/he puts up with it. If it were me, I’d be out of there immediately.” Ms. Brown has crafted a realistic example of how the abuse slowly boils and how the abused find reasons to stay. Very well done.
5. I think this book will do well in so many different hands. A reader experiencing abuse will find a mirror in the pages. Readers who know someone going through abuse will find solace. Readers who do not understand the cycle of abuse will gain knowledge, understanding, and sympathy within Bitter End.
Hush by Eishes Chayil. Published by Walker Books for Young Readers. Read in December, 2010. Copy purchased for my high school library.
A Fast Five Review:
1. Eishes Chayil is a pseudonym. The author’s bio states that the name means “woman of valor” and that she grew up in the Hasidic community. One may assume that she has written what she knows.
2. I could see how some readers might struggle and put this down. It’s a serious, scary subject matter set in a Hasidic Jewish community, a world unfamiliar to many of today’s teens. I would argue that delving in to different religious community is no less interesting than a vampire community, but the lack of an overarching romance story could lose some readers. To those readers, I would suggest coming back to it in a couple of years as it is a powerful book.
3. The story is told through Gittel, a young girl growing up in Brooklyn’s Borough Park. The reader learns a lot about this Hasidic (Chassidim is the spelling used in the book) community, their beliefs and traditions. This is incredibly interesting! A glossary is provided in the back of the book which helps with definitions and pronunciations.
4. Gittel is a well-crafted character. She is smart, loyal, and full of love for those in her world, including the goyim upstairs.
5. Part of Gittel’s story involves an arranged marriage. I really appreciated how the author handled this: the difficulties and pleasantries. Having read books that take a negative view on arranged marriages, as a librarian, I value having something in my collection that is honest without making every arranged marriage look like a nightmare.
Hush is an emotional read that is worth your time.