Maggie's family is going through a very rough time. Her parents have separated and on the verge of getting a divorce. Their bitterness spreads to Maggie who wants her parents to get back together and realize that they can work things out. But this won't happen because Maggie blames her mom for her dad leaving. Feeling as though her family has failed her, she turns to her aunt with whom she can share her true feelings with. However when the truth about her parents' split comes out and a tragedy strikes the family, Maggie has to learn whether she really wants this bitterness to take control of her life.
Once again, Melody Carlson focuses on another subject that is touchy among the Christian church. Divorce is not something a lot of people like to talk about. Therefore teens who are in families that have divorce often have no one to talk to and go through their suffering alone. Maggie's pain is understandable. No one wants to see their family split up. You don't want to see the two people who are supposed to promote family unity just give up and walk out on you. It makes sense that Maggie is bitter and cynical towards her parents. I just didn't like though how she didn't have all the facts and kept lashing out at her mother and blaming her for the split. She didn't give her a chance to explain and kept siding with her dad. So when the truth finally comes out, it hurts Maggie more than anything. I'm glad the ending of the novel doesn't end happily. Many Christian novels have everyone making up with the family getting back together and hugs all around. Unfortunately that is not always realistic. Maggie's faith keeps her strong throughout this whole ordeal. There is a subplot which involves teen drinking and the ill effects of it. With both parents involved with their own affairs, there's no one for Maggie to turn to so she gives into peer pressure and then pays for the consequences. This is an excellent book for teens who have experienced divorce. Highly recommended teen reading. Bitter Rose by Melody Carlson is published by NavPress (2006)