Bitter End

Gr 9 Up—Alex is looking for something real—more real than her distant father, who never speaks in complete sentences, more real than the faded memories of her mother, who died on the night she was leaving her family, even more real than her two best friends and their plan for a graduation trip to Colorado. She thinks she has found what she has been looking for in Cole, the new boy at school whom she has been assigned to tutor. Alex is flattered when he shows interest in her, and he rapidly becomes her entire world. As she tries to balance her friends and Cole, her life begins to unravel. Bethany and Zack do not like Cole, and he does not want to share her. His increasing jealousy leads to escalating abuse, both physical and verbal. Her friends and coworkers know something is wrong, but Alex covers for him because she loves him and believes him when he says that he is going to change. When a former girlfriend comes to talk to her about Cole's abuse of her and others, and tells her that he and his family moved because of her lawsuit against him, Alex finally admits that her boyfriend is an abuser. That night he is waiting at her car after work and beats her until she is certain she is going to die. Thanks to the intervention of her boss she survives and begins the long road to recovery. Gritty and disturbing, this novel should be in all collections serving teens. It could be used in programs about abuse, as well as in psychology or sociology classes.—Suanne Roush, Osceola High School, Seminole, FL
Alex feels that her boyfriend Cole is the only one who loves and understands her. So she forgives his occasional aggressive actions: being rude to her best friends, squeezing her wrist too tightly. As these incidents become increasingly violent, Alex finally accepts that she's being abused. Brown deftly captures the complexities of enduring--and escaping--domestic violence in this sensitive novel.

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