Reviews tagging Child abuse

Bitter, by Akwaeke Emezi

25 reviews

readwithasherreid's review

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dark emotional funny reflective tense fast-paced
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

5.0

As someone who fell in love with PET, BITTER immediately went onto my list for the most anticipated 2022 releases!! I was worried going into this because I saw a *lot* of criticism for this book. However, after finishing it, I disagree with a lot of the negative things people have to say about this work. In my opinion, Akwaeke Emezi does not ever disappoint with their novels!! This was not a book that was ‘fun’ to read, by any means, there are some triggering topics discussed within this novel. However, I think the way the conversations are talked about is brilliant and that the book was one that I could not put down! There seem to be some adults who think this book is “too smart” for teenagers and I just don’t think you’re giving teens the credit they deserve. I could talk about BITTER for ages, but to save time and energy I’ll leave this review short.

CWs I can't link below: conversion therapy, depression, sex trafficking, etc.

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musebeliever's review

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3.0


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catapocalypse's review against another edition

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challenging dark emotional hopeful tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5

The most important thing to know going into this after reading Pet is that they are very different in tone and intensity. Bitter is a prequel, following Jam's mother when she herself was a teen in school, back before the monsters in Lucille were subdued. This setting is very recognizable and on-the-nose with real life issues: exploitative billionaires, corrupt government, and brutality against marginalized populations. Bitter's life has been hard, and even within the safe walls of her school, Eucalyptus, she still grapples with what her part in the struggle to make a better world should be. Things fly out of control when she accidentally unleashes Angels into the world, and both she and the activist Assata kids must decide how they really want things to resolve.

I personally didn't have an issue with the ways this differs from Pet. As with everything from Emezi, things play out in ways I didn't entirely expect, and nothing is as simple as it seems. This is definitely the most on-the-nose of their work, which some folks may not care for, but I think is fine for YA in particular.

The serious content does make it seem fit for a slightly older teen audience than Pet, as there are deaths, instances of violence and characters suffering serious injury, and some mentions of abuse and trauma from the very flawed foster care system.

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dreareads_'s review

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dark emotional informative reflective tense

4.5

<i> Hope is not a waste of time. Hope is a discipline <\i> 

I really enjoyed this book. Emezi is the kind of author that is not afraid to be explicit about the central points of their story. The characters (old and new) and beautifully constructed, and the love between them is obvious. 

While Pet was a fairly contained story, Bitter is a story about a movement and the role of individuals. It is a story that warns against revenge, but also the ugly side of ‘justice’.

There are many things to love about this book but there were points that were confusing or just didn’t work for me.
1) The Angels: in Pet the Angels are here to hunt monsters, and while they have their own agenda they are not needlessly blood thirsty
Spoiler in this story, the Angels are bringers of destruction, their purpose isn’t to safe the innocent, but to cleanse the city w/ blood
this to me felt like a departure from what we knew about the Angels from Pet.
2) The delivery of the message: although I appreciate the ideas that Emezi is promoting in the book, sometimes they felt a bit too on the surface. This is more a preference than anything else, and I understand that as a YA story this is aimed at an audience that benefits from clear messaging. 

Regardless another masterpiece from a wonderful writer. 

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karcitis's review against another edition

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challenging dark emotional reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0


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solenekeleroux's review against another edition

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emotional inspiring reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0


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michaelion's review against another edition

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dark hopeful tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

I'd like to reiterate what I said in my review of Pet. Which I will not repeat here but it still stands. I liked, nay, LOVED Vengeance. And the worldbuilding in this sequel / prequel is just so rich. Not that they have to, but Emezi could run wild with this world alone and never be broke again. It's so beautiful, it's so refreshing. Pet was so warm and sweet and this was so dark and sultry... Bitter if I may. But both books, despite how different they feel, smell, sound, despite how different the in-universe world is barely a generation later, both taste like eating really good dark chocolate. For me. I say this because I love dark chocolate. And I did eat a few while reading, but because the world already made me think of the flavor! What I mean is the world itself is rich, flavorful, colorful, and even though the books are different they have the same heart.

Emezi has a real talent, a real beauty in absorbing me into these words. There was one page I gasped at least 10 times, just one page! And throughout the whole book I was so giddy. But can you blame me? A straight (presenting(?)) couple so gay they grow to have a trans daughter? I love it here! We have no choice but to stan! If there's a third book I'm sending Emezi my paycheck the day the book is announced.

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emilyjleland's review

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challenging dark emotional hopeful inspiring reflective fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

5.0


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anonymous_k's review against another edition

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challenging dark emotional hopeful reflective sad tense slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.5

Additional Trigger Warnings: Foster Home Trauma

Good book! I go back and forth on whether I like Bitter more than Pet, but both were good and important reads! All educators need to read these books (Pet and Bitter), and I would argue that any teens who are able to read such traumatic topics should read them too. I gave it a 4.5 because reading such heavy and traumatic topics is hard for me. I am very happy to have learned more, but it took me a long time to read this book because of the severity of the trauma talked about in this book. Overall, I loved this book as it did a great job illustrating the trauma people of color (specifically black youth) face in America and it prepares me to create a safe haven and provide support in my future classroom for these traumatized students.

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cyrinw98's review

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challenging dark emotional hopeful informative inspiring reflective sad tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.75

Semi-spoilers ahead.
Trigger Warnings: Graphic depictions of violence, mentions of the life of an adult abuser(Hibiscus), mentions of child abuse, blood, fire
In this sequel to Emezi’s young adult novel Pet, we follow a seventeen-year-old Bitter( Jam’s mother) back as a former foster care child and queer artist attending the mysterious Eucalyptus Academy back in a time when the monsters in Lucille very much existed. Bitter has built a bubble around herself for protection. Protection from the monsters that are turning her home into a warzone and protection from the memories of “the lost years.” Bitter has no interest in the revolution. She isn't like the Assata kids who fight on the frontlines, but when tragedy strikes closer to home Bitter must make a decision that may have a rippling effect.
Emezi is such a master with their prose and is talented at creating very human characters that jump off of the page. I think the way Bitter feels is how many of us feel about injustice, but maybe are too afraid to voice. I liked seeing Bitter’s character progression and getting to know the origins of many of the characters we met in Pet. 
This book touches on two important questions: In the face of injustice, am I doing enough?
How can I help/where is my place?
I liked how Emezi constantly reiterated that every person has a role in the revolution: the organizers, artists, historians, and the front-liners. Everyone has a purpose. It also touches on the importance of self-care for activists, art as activism, and the importance of community. There was also a commentary on ableism and the idea of being useful. There are nods to prominent figures: Assata Shakur, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Mariam Kabe and their contributions to their respective movements. 
The pacing in the novel was off at times and there were certain parts of the novel that I think needed to be explored more. This is my second Akweake Emezi novel and it solidified  them as one of my favorite authors.

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