cover image The Corner of Bitter and Sweet

The Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Robin Palmer. Penguin/Speak, $9.99 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-0-14-241250-3

Annabelle has no time for anything other than caring for her alcoholic mother, the down-and-out former TV star Janie Jackson. The 16-year-old is her mother’s only true emotional support, and she takes on the responsibility of trying to keep her mother sober and their lives on the rails with little outside help. After Annabelle attends an Alateen meeting and her mother lands a movie role (following a trip to rehab), things start to look up. Palmer (Wicked Jealous) gives Annabelle a genuinely funny and self-deprecating voice that both prevents her internal monologues from bogging down the narrative and counterbalances the seriousness of their situation. Annabelle’s friends make negligible appearances, and aside from a boy named Matt—who walks into Annabelle’s life during the last third of the novel, offering the possibility of romance—this story really revolves around Annabelle and Janie’s relationship. Thanks to Annabelle’s witty, upbeat commentary, readers (particularly those who have faced alcoholism firsthand) will relate to and sympathize with her as she tries to ride out the rollercoaster of her mother’s drinking. Ages 12–up. Agent: Tina Wexler, ICM. (June)