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

2.5/5

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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