I’ve been eager to write a review about SweetBitter since the moment I scrolled over its cover shinning through Emma Robert’s Instagram.
(Sidenote: if you don’t take literature suggestions from Emma Robert’s Instagram you’re absolutely missing out)
Stephanie Danler has this amazing talent of capturing a young woman in her twenties in a new city. It’s as simple as that.
Especially being a young woman myself, in her twenties, who’s ran away to the city – SweetBitter puts a subtle and adolescent experience into words I could never find. To make it even more relatable, the main character is a new back server at a fancy restaurant in Manhattan. If you’ve never been a waiter or bartender, I am secretly jealous of you. But, I may be more sad for you.
Why sad, you ask?
Because of the sense of community and the way one can find their true selves in the industry. You work hard, you don’t get noticed for it. You break a plate, cut your thumb to the bone, that’s what finger condom is for. But most importantly, you have co-workers, but you make honest friends of them.
SweetBitter is a coming of age tale about Tess. She comes as an outsider to NYC, a city that welcomes curiosity and strangeness. Her idea was to eventually establish herself as a writer, as so many of us aspire to do. But, she accidentally becomes one of the many who’ve ran away to find something they’re not sure if they truly wanted. Further along she falls in love with a douche bag. His story makes him irresistible. She makes friends with people that pretend to love her and show those feelings through piles of cocaine and sly comments about her sex life.
The tale hits home for me because of the amount of raw material put into it. Tess isn’t the heroine of her story, the city is. There are many obstacles that lead to mistakes that are left unsolved. Once she fantasies about a life she may never have she quickly falls head over heels and acts like a child in a way that she imitates those she admires. And the reason it may now be my favorite book, and my suggestion to you today, is because of it’s authenticity. Danler is clearly writing from experience and that makes the story feel normal and real to me. That being an out of control, twenty something, wanna-be, know-it-all, in love, naive waitress is in fact, normal.