Tag Archives: Coming of Age

Review: Sweetbitter

Sweetbitter

Sweetbitter
By Stephanie Danler
Knopf Publishing Group, Hardcover, 9781101875940, May 2016, 368pp.

The Short of It:

An apt title for a story that pushes you away as much as it pulls you in.

The Rest of It:

Youth. Remember it? Maybe it’s been awhile since you’ve felt that elusive, fleeting happiness that percolates ever so gently when it comes to love. Well, this story captures it beautifully.

New York City is the backdrop for this novel and it’s dizzying in its perfection. Even with the bug infestations and the rats running through the street, Tess finds it to be magical in its own way.

“It’s ludicrous for anyone to live here,” she thinks, at the same time, she thinks, “I can never leave.” ~Sweetbitter

Tess moves to the city with the hopes to reinvent herself. In her twenties, it’s as if the world is there for the taking so when she lands a job at a well-known restaurant, she quickly falls into the routine of the place which includes many players, much drama and Jake, the bartender she’s completely obsessed with.

Tess is a work-in-progress. She’s green when it comes to love and war and she takes a beating both professionally and personally. Her eagerness to learn and her willingness to take it all in makes her vulnerable and somewhat innocent. Often times I found myself wanting to shake her a little but as I approached the final pages, I realized just how masterful the writing was.

There’s so much to love about this book. There’s food and wine and plenty of flawed, interesting people and Danler absolutely nailed the restaurant industry. I suppose it’s a coming-of-age story but it’s sophisticated, gritty and brutal in its honesty. I highly recommend it.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: The Book of Aron

The Book of Aron

The Book of Aron
By Jim Shepard
Vintage, Paperback, 9781101872741, May 2016, 272pp.

The Short of It:

Based on true events, Shepard tells the story of a young boy and his family as they struggle to survive Germany’s occupation of the Warsaw Ghetto.

The Rest of It:

There are many books written about the Holocaust. Some are beautifully written and nearly all of them are pretty heavy in tone. This one is a little different. The story is told from a young boy’s point of view. A young boy who happens to be street smart and a bit of a wretch. Somehow, that makes the story he’s telling a little easier to digest.

Although not likable, Aron is a survivor and he comes in contact with many characters both young and old who directly impact him and his quality of life. Hunger, illness, lice outbreaks and the continued loss of personal property and loved ones, puts Aron on the street, and that is where he meets Dr. Janusz Korczak, a pediatrician , the true hero of this story.

As I said earlier, although fictionalized, the story is based on true events and when I turned that last page, I was eager to know more about Dr. Janusz Korczak (birthname Hersz Goldszmit). I think Shepard could have written the entire book about him.

All in all, The Book of Aron was a good book to discuss. The book club that I belong to had plenty to say about it. The pacing was a little slow in the beginning but it picked up about halfway through. I hesitate to say it but for a book with this subject matter, the tone felt lighter to me than most. It wasn’t particularly heavy until the end.

I’ve never read anything by Shepard before but now I am interested in reading his other book, Project X, about middle-school (another heavy topic),

Have you read The Book of Aron or Project X?

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.