Tag Archives: New York

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 Ramblers

The Ramblers

The Ramblers
By Aidan Donnelley Rowley
William Morrow & Company, Hardcover, 9780062413314,  February 2016, 400pp.

The Short of It:

Rambling through life, two friends attempt to forget about the past with glorious New York as the backdrop.

The Rest of It:

Clio and Smith are two close friends from college. Like sisters, they’ve relied upon one another and have experienced both the good and bad that life has to offer. Now, successful and doing pretty well on their own, they’ve each found love and but no matter how comforting the idea of “love” is, they are guarded because of past hurts.

Everyone is reading this book right now and I’ll tell you why. Mostly, because of the glorious New York setting which doesn’t really get going until the last half of the novel but once you get to it, you can’t help but fall in love with the city. The other reason for its popularity, is that it’s a love story cushioned in-between some heavier issues such as mental illness. It’s not fluffy and light but I will admit that the first half had me doubting this. You really need to push through that first half to get to the good stuff.

What I liked a lot, is how the author made Clio and Smith the focus of the story and not the men in their lives. This gives them an independent edge which I think is missing in a lot of stories where love is the central focus. These two women have experienced loss and although hurt, they are cautious and yes, hopeful that there is something better just around the corner.

Final thoughts? The first half and the second half could have been more balanced, but if you stay with it, I think you will find it to be an enjoyable read.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher via Edelweiss.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.