Bitter and Sweet

West 44 Bks. Aug. 2020. 96p. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781538385241; pap. $11.70. ISBN 9781538385234.
Gr 9 Up–After committing a crime, Loew runs away from Georgia to Florida to stay with his aunt and cousin, Tommy. There he meets Tommy’s girlfriend, Sweetie, who never knows whether she’s going to be caressed or beaten by Tommy. When Tommy is asleep, Loew and Sweetie develop a secret friendship, and she is stuck in the middle of the two cousins. Many teens will relate to the descriptions of Sweetie’s newfound infatuation with Loew. The narrative moves quickly, which can sometimes be confusing, and the abuse from both Tommy and Sweetie’s father may be disturbing for readers of any age. This is a hi-lo novel that examines a serious topic, but overall the read is unrelentingly dark. Characters’ races aren’t specified, and all of them are of lower socio-economic status without supportive parents.
VERDICT This is recommended for discussing how women can build self-confidence, look for safe havens, and not accept male abuse as normal.

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