I read the synopsis on this book and thought it would be about cupcakes. Not so. It's really about ice skating, high school, and living in a small town. Who knew?
It's the story of a girl who is doing her best to deal with real life in a practical way. Hudson is one of the most angst-ridden protagonists I've ever encountered. She spends almost the entire story second-guessing herself and cringing at the decisions she's made. She likes Will, doesn't she? Shouldn't she? She likes Josh, but then there's the Will thing . . . she wants to please her Mom. She's desperate to leave her small town while consumed with guilt over not wanting to follow in her mother's footsteps. She makes sacrifices without trashing her dreams or losing sight of her goal. Then she doubts whether she should be sacrificing in the first place.
OK all that aside, Hudson really was likable. Her banter with the hockey team was thoroughly enjoyable. She was committed, faithful, funny at times. She was a terrible friend and yet I never thought she was a jerk. The cupcakes seemed to me to really be a side issue and indeed they were her coping mechanism. I'm conflicted on my feelings for the love triangle; Hudson seemed to take a long time to figure it out when it seemed so obvious to us as readers. But she does get to the bottom of her feelings in the end with a very satisfying conclusion.
I liked Will but I didn't trust him (I knew it!). I had mixed feelings about Dani, the stock gum-cracking funny friend. In the end, Dani's behaviour gave her a bit more depth than the traditional best friend. I really liked Josh, I loved Bug, I even liked Hudson's mom. All the points of view were clearly distinguished, the characters well defined. The story was sort of like a rocky path to a predictable ending. But that was ok because this story is a light read, not trying to tackle any major issues. And let's face it, titling each chapter with a mouth-watering cupcake description didn't hurt.
Ockler does a great job of placing us in a busy diner in a small town. I felt the cold, heard the sounds of skates on ice. I saw the icy lake. She's a good writer.
I do have a bone to pick, though. It seems that a lot of the contemporary YA that I read lately has characters that can't communicate. While this drives the plot along, it gets annoying. They aren't honest when they should be, and that feels a bit contrived. Can't an author move things along without resorting to the traditional measures of insecurity and dishonesty by omission with their characters? Or is this just reflective of real life and the thing that makes the characters interesting? I'm on the fence about this whole plot device because so many of these stories are thoroughly enjoyable.
The book is narrated on audio by Ariadne Meyers. Her voice for Hudson is wonderful - I think it's what makes the story so good. She really did bring the story to life with expression and emotion.
All in all, I gave this 4 stars because I enjoyed it even with its problems. It's a sweet story. Fans of Sarah Dessen will love it.