Bitter End

Jennifer Brown. Little, Brown, $17.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-316-08695-0
Haunted by the death of her mother many years earlier in a car accident, Alex has long dreamed of visiting the Colorado mountains that were her mother's destination. Alex and BFFs Bethany and Zack are gearing up for a cross-country road trip to Colorado as a graduation present when Alex falls for Cole, a new senior who seems to understand her in ways no one has before—and who is prone to violent rages. As in The Hate List, Brown demonstrates an expert ability to handle difficult subject matter. Cole's brutal abuse and manipulations, Alex's inability to disclose her battering (and her willingness to make excuses for Cole), and Bethany and Zack's frustration and fear all feel entirely authentic. The book's power—and its value—comes from the honest portrayal of characters who simply can't figure out how to bring an ugly, evident truth to light. Brown's deliberate pacing and the gradual unveiling of Cole's nature make the story, and Cole and Alex's relationship, feel akin to a train gathering momentum, one whose destruction is as assured as it is tragic. Ages 15–up. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/28/2011
Release date: 05/01/2011
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