Age Group: Young Adult
Sixteen-year-old Annabelle Jacobs never asked to be famous, but as the daughter of Janie Jacobs, one of the biggest TV stars in the world, she is. Growing up is hard enough. Having to do it in public because your mother is a famous actress? Even harder. When your mom crashes and burns after her DUI mug shot is splashed across the internet? Definitely not fun. Then your mom falls for a guy so much younger than she that it would be more appropriate for you to be dating him? That’s just a train wreck waiting to happen.This is Robin Palmer's first YA book that isn't a fairy tale retelling, but her fans have no reason to worry. Everything that makes her books so great is still here, including her addictive writing style, quirky sense of humor, and the story's strong sense of heart. What is different about The Corner of Bitter and Sweet is that the subject material is heavier, though it doesn't always feel that way. Some books that deal with Tough Subjects tend to border on melodramatic, but TCoBaS manages to be realistic, without being depressing (which is why the title is so perfect).
The book's protagonist, Annabelle, makes a ton of mistakes, and understandably so. One of my favorite things about her is that she's real. This is shown in the details, too, from her Play Dough sniffing to her lists. A lot of book characters don't have idiosyncrasies like that, but seeing Annabelle's gives more insight into who she is and into her situation. We also get to see her interests, especially photography, which really contributes to the plot (unlike some books that throw in a MC's hobbies and it just feels like, "Look! Random characterization!") That to me is an honest character.
The mother-daughter relationship is so tangled and messy, but then there's a side of it that's touching and sweet, too. Even though Annabelle's mother is coping with mental illness and is also largely self-absorbed, she does really love her daughter. Their relationship is the crux of the book, of course, and it's just shown perfectly, in all of its good and bad.
There's romance in this novel, too, though it's not the focus. In fact, there's no chance of romance until about 200 pages in, which is actually a really, really good thing. Annabelle needs to work out her own issues before she gets into a relationship, which would make any earlier love arc an unnecessary distraction. Waiting until later in the plot ensured that it is not only meaningful, but also super sweet and fun, too.
Ultimately, The Corner of Bitter and Sweet is everything that I hoped it would be. Definitely giving this one...
*5 stars*Other Books by Robin Palmer: Cindy Ella, Geek Charming, Little Miss Red, Wicked Jealous
What do you feel makes a realistic character?