Sweetbitter is one of those books where I can understand why people both love and hate this book.
Stephanie Danler’s coming of age story set in the backdrop of a high-class New York restaurant explores feelings of love, friendship, and loneliness as it pertains to a young Tess.
I gave this book four out of five stars because three days after finishing I’m still finding myself thinking about this story.
Sweetbitter is extraordinarily written, on a page by page level the writing is transcendent and kept me reading until the last word. There’s a certain feeling of loss and apathy that floats throughout the novel that separates it from other contemporary novels of this nature.
There are so many moments of describing the food in the restaurant of portraying the rush of the restaurant that felt like they were talking about something else.
There’s no real character progression throughout the book as Tess finds her footing in the New York restaurant scene. Befriending Simone and falling in love (or lust) with Jake she doesn’t really find herself coming out of any of the situations as a better person or ‘finding herself’ kind of an antithesis to the New York self-discovery novels that used to populate the genre.
Of course, this novel is enduringly pretentious without much of a satisfying ending and I can’t say that any of the characters were truly likable. But I don’t think that’s the point of a book like this at its heart SweetBitter is illustrating a moment in this girl’s life, warts and all.