Thursday, June 23, 2011

BITTER END by Jennifer Brown

What if the hottest guy you could imagine walked into your life and swept you off your feet?  Amazing, you would say.  Without doubt, a dream come true. 

Alex never believed it could happen, but Cole simply took her breath away.  From the first moment she saw him, she knew he was special, and when he seemed to feel the same way about her, it made her often confusing life perfect.

For years Alex had struggled to understand what drove her mother to leave behind a husband and three little girls.  Her sisters never seemed to waste much time thinking about their mother.  They just went on with their lives leaving Alex to do all the wondering and questioning about why their mother left and then tragically died in a car crash.  For years Alex watched as their father stumbled through his days working hard to feed and clothe his daughters but never showing the emotional connection Alex needed so badly.

Until she met Cole, Alex found emotional support from her two best friends, Bethany and Zack.  The three inseparable friends had spent years planning a graduation trip to visit Colorado which was where Alex's mother was headed when she died.  The trip was to provide needed closure for Alex, but meeting Cole derailed all their wonderful plans.

Cole was the perfect boyfriend.  He brought flowers and other special gifts.  He planned romantic moments and treated Alex like a princess.  She knew he was truly special when he took one of her poems and set it to music and played his guitar and sang for her.  What more could she ask for, and why weren't her friends being understanding when she wanted to spend less time with them and more time with this wonderful guy?

Alex couldn't believe how lucky she was to have Cole, although there were moments when she felt there might be something wrong.  He seemed to have an unreasonable jealousy when it came to Zack and even Bethany.  Cole went out of his way to keep Alex to himself.  Because she was quickly falling in love, Alex found one excuse after another to rationalize Cole's behavior, but his jealousy was morphing into something more disturbing.  Cole had angry outbursts that ended in attacks on Alex.  One of the first ended with him grabbing and painfully twisting her wrist and leaving Alex with bruises that raised the eyebrows of her sister and a caring woman she worked with.  That was only the beginning. 

There were black eyes, bruises from vicious pinches, and an episode of shoving that ended with Alex skinned and bruised and with a broken front tooth.  Each incident was followed by an apology and a promise that it would never happen again.  Alex knew she was in trouble, and even though she was angry with herself, she didn't know where to turn.

BITTER END by Jennifer Brown explores domestic violence as it rears its ugliness in the world of dating.  Brown states in an author's note that she was always confused by the idea that women could be in abusive relationships and not find some way to get out.  She brings up the idea of love and its part in the relationship.  Alex's situation reflects this issue of love and how it influences the good and bad choices made in abusive relationships.  This book sends a powerful message and will hopefully help young adult readers understand and avoid situations similar to Alex's.  

No comments: