Reviews by vicki browne
Music, loyalty, and imagination, these are the threads that carry this story, along with characters you'll never forget. Riddle is the younger brother who draws the inner workings of machines and gadgets and speaks sparingly. He and his older brother, Sam, live with their unstable Father, whose stealing ways keeps them isolated and on the run. Along comes the Bell family, changing all of their lives forever. Chance meetings and small decisions in the right direction are cornerstone to this story.
Jennifer Brown's debut book, 'Hate List' won the 2010 Thumbs Up! Award for Teens, so we knew she would be someone to watch. 'Bitter End' her next story takes on the subject of dating abuse. Meet Alex and Cole; the seemingly perfect couple. He leaves roses on her car, supports her poetry writing, and is very attentive. Drawn to Cole and his overtures of love, Alex falls hard. She has 2 very cool, very best friends, is a good student and enjoys a part-time job, but on the other hand, her family is distant, and she longs for love. Cole, who mimicks the dysfunction he lives with at home, soon shows his true colors and what begins is a cycle of hurt and forgiveness. Tension and drama leave you with much to mull over after the last page is turned. Resources for further help are listed at the back of the book.
Unexpected pleasure comes from reading this collection of short stories by top-notch young adult authors. Don Gallo is an experienced editor of the short story collection, and I think writers actually go to him with ideas about what themes and stories would make up an inviting and worthy collection. My favorite in this collection is the first one by Joyce Sweeeney, about an unlikely winner of a short story contest. He has to take a bus across town to accept his award, things happen to delay him, make him late. However, the choices he makes, he's definitely, a winner, whether he gets to the ceremony to accept the award or not.