Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler is THE book of the summer. People are buying this book like crazy and it has been on the NY Times bestseller list. This is a popular book! So, why didn't I enjoy it much?
Sweetbitter is the story of Tess who is 22 and just starting her life in NYC. She gets a job at one of the most prestigious restaurants in the city. This is a restaurant that serves and caters to the clientele so much so that they know the perfect seat, the perfect food, and the best wine to match to the customer. They pride themselves on everything, especially Simone the longest waiter there and Tess' mentor.
Within the restaurant there are a cast of characters, but the one who stands out for Tess is Jake. Jake comes in right when he feels like it, he seems to have distain for the whole process, and he is the guy who has Tess' eye. Jake is the completely wrong guy for Tess, but will she go for him anyway even though she has been warned by her mentor to stay away? (Hint: yes)
We follow Tess through a year at the restaurant where she continues to plummet into the restaurant's lifestyle. It may be serious during the serving times, but after hours the debauchery begins. Drinks are poured at the restaurant's bar and then some of the crew head out to another bar where drugs are snorted and people hook up with one another. Tess falls into the life and we watch her plummet down the rabbit hole as she continues to make choice after choice bringing her further down, including a relationship with Jake.
I asked on Litsy (my new favorite social media site)- have you ever had a book that was ok, but you weren't enjoying it that much and kept wanting to read other books instead? Sweetbitter was that book for me. The writing has simple quick sentences and drew me in during the opening chapters. It was the change of seasons that lost me. This book took me a week and a half to read and for those that know me, that is a long time in my world.
I believe what lost me was her relationship with Jake. From the beginning, I kind of figured out what was going to happen with Tess- she could either rise above everything and take Simone's place or plunge into the depths and go after the guy. She went after the guy who was mentally and physically abusive toward her. After their first night of sex in the back of the cab, the very next section is Tess trying to figure out how to cover up her bruises. She gets mocked by him and is made to feel stupid often by Jake and she knows it too! So, why does she continue to stay with him?
That was the main reason why this book lost me. This was the fourth or fifth book written by a woman that I read where the protagonist goes after an abusive man and takes his abuse. In the meantime, I have also read women authors who are struggling against real abuse in their lives and trying to stop perpetuating the notion that women should allow for abuses. So, my question is why are some women authors promoting the abusive relationship as a good thing?
We, the readers, know Jake is terrible for Tess and even Tess figures that out. She continues to stay though and falls for him as her life continues to fall apart with alcohol abuse and drug abuse. Maybe others saw it differently, but I saw a train wreck and I didn't want to watch. Don't get me started on the ending either (Hint: more sexual abuse for Tess, but by a different character).
I gave this one 3 stars because of the writing. If it were not for the writing, this would have been a bail. I kept trying to see why everyone loved it, but I just didn't
Here is your Amazon link- Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler