Book Review – The Bitter End by Jennifer Brown (or, “Please Punch Him in the Face Before I Pull My Hair Out”)

“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 loves and understands her.At first, Alex is blissfully happy. Sure, Cole seems a little jealous of her relationship with her close friend Zack, but what guy would want his girlfriend spending all her time with another boy? As the months pass, though, 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.” -Goodreads Synopsis

I am reading my way through the YABA list, and this one was next in line. We follow the story of Alex and her tumultuous relationship with her boyfriend, Cole. Initially, we start with the story of Alex’s tragic childhood and the bond between her and her two best friends. Her mother died and she had never heard the true version so she lived in confusion with her bitter father. And then we meet Cole. He starts off as a sweet guy, but then we get into his back-story, and man is it depressing. Anyway, he pushes and pushes Alex through both mental and physical abuse. And I won’t ruin the story for you by saying much more about what actually happens.

Typically, I am not a huge fan of realistic fiction. This was well written, however, I don’t think I read it correctly. From my perspective, I grew to dislike Alex more so than Cole. Don’t get me wrong, abuse in any form is bad and no one should just tolerate it. And that is just what Alex did for most of the book, and I think that may have been my issue. Also I felt that Alex was a little generic and didn’t have any qualities that I latched onto and could relate too. I was horrified about the situation, but she had a million opportunities to reach out and accept help when it was offered. (Unfortunately, I do not think as many opportunities are present to some in real life to escape these situations. Sigh…)

To sum up this book in one word: FRUSTRATING! Which honestly porbably made the book very realistic. You are watching Alex’s downward spiral, and the whole time she knows she shouldn’t be there, but she is always pulled back in. I spent countless nights complaining to my husband about how Alex needed to kick Cole to the curb.

Side note—my husband is awesome. I stormed into the living room one night at like 11:30, stomped my foot and went into a fifteen minute tirade about Alex, and he never once asked who Alex was, he just went with it. After my tirade was over he agreed that Alex, which could have been a real person for all he knew, needed to get it together. He is so good. J

To wrap this up, my favorite part of this book was the end. Now before you think I am a heartless realistic fiction hater, just hold on! At the end of the book, the author presented some awesome information about abusive relationships and how to get out of them. For a teenage girl in this situation, I imagine this could be a great resource. So kudos to Jennifer Brown for ending on a super positive note.

Star Rating: 3.5/5

Overall Impression

Me for the last half of the book.