Book Review: Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

When you can’t see in front of you, life is nothing but surprises. Looking back, there were truly so few of them.

Book Rating


Book Review

Sweetbitter is another story about a young Midwesterner moving out to the big city and trying to find her way… I don’t have a problem with that, in fact, I like that trope. However, I really didn’t like this book. I’m sure that’s an unpopular opinion because it seems everyone likes this book, and there’s even a TV series around this book.

Let’s start with the good. I liked the description of the world of a server. It took me back to the odd dynamics of restaurants, the days I worked as a server (at a much less fancy restaurant but still). It reminded me of the “family” like atmosphere of that job, and the odd tiers that were created through skill and respect. I also thought that Danler was a great writer, sentence structure wise. Some of what she said was really well-written and powerful.

I did like that the main character, Tess, took her new serving job seriously (for the most part) and did a lot of research and put in a lot of effort to be good at her job. Serving is tough and I appreciate that she tried to work her way to be a server!

However, I didn’t like the character-growth…or rather, lack thereof. That may have been intentional, but it really just made me sad the whole time. Tess is involved in some toxic activities, and at the end, I feel like she threw away any slight growth she did have out the window completely.

I also didn’t like the plot, or rather (again) lack thereof. Reading this book, I ended up skimming the parts where the main character got black out drunk or sniffed some more cocaine, because that felt constant! I was confused by the main character’s relationship with the workers at the restaurant, and I didn’t understand her obsession with Simone. Maybe if it was explained a little better I would have understood it more.

Overall, I’d say this is a “meh” read. I’d be interested to see how Starz takes this book and translates it into a show, so I’ll probably attempt to watch that.


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