Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

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Title:  Sweetbitter

Author: Stephanie Danler

Date Published:  May 24th, 2016

Publisher: Knopf

About: The tale of a young woman from a small town transitioning to the appeal of the big city that is New York. She finds herself landing a job in one of the exclusive restaurants in the posh Manhattan. What follows is the year in her life in the restaurant scene.

Rate: 2 of 5

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I’m not one to be in the look-out for popular and new books, especially those that are “hyped-up” because I read all kinds of books—from old books to new books to children’s book, etc. So, I fairly read everything. (I don’t know if that is counted as a well-rounded reader, but oh well.) My only waterloo is the genre non-fiction especially biography-type books. I rarely find books, let alone pick one up, of the said genre that I like.

So, reflecting first on the cover—a broken glass of wine. I must admit that the cover is gorgeous. Simple, but gorgeous.

This book takes a small peek, a year, in the life of a young woman. I don’t know much about New York City but what I do know is that the career-ladder in NYC is a very cutthroat industry to be and to compete. The first time I read the book I wasn’t exactly thrilled. The first two or three chapters were just lulling for me, it lacked the catch that I was waiting for in the story. Because of this, my motivation to read it further was kind of lowered. I even contemplated on just putting it down and not finishing it. But then what stopped me was the very good reviews that I read in GoodReads. It is really hyped up over there so I thought, Eh, what’s the harm? I got a copy might as well read it. Maybe further along the line I’d find something to interest me and catch my attention. And admittedly, the story became better at the middle of the book. I was glad I didn’t put it down. But it wasn’t enough to get me hooked up on it…

I read the bio of the book (an act I’m trying to discipline myself on doing these days because I often just pick up a book randomly) and of course it told of the tale of a young woman going to NYC to find herself in the big city. Incidentally she got a job in the restaurant scene. Although I found, much to my disappointment, the restaurant scene just a backdrop. A tale supposedly about a year in the life of a restaurant employee. I lost the sense that it was about the restaurant scene because it didn’t really touch the culinary scene. I do get that the book is not about the culinary thing or cooking, but still I anticipated it nonetheless. What was focused on was the wine. The restaurant bit just became a vague outline and an environment in which the main character walked around within a year. It just became a channel of the story not delving into the technicality of the world within. Which was what I was really waiting for. The sheer lack of backstory and details on the characters are also disturbing.

I wasn’t particularly thrilled. The story was focused more to Tess’ (the main character of the book) life AROUND and not WITHIN the restaurant scene.

There’s this particular qualm in me that says, Should I like it? Many people liked the book and the story. Personally, I think it was just all over the place. (I’m sorry for sounding very harsh, I’m aware that I’m never the writer but then again I am a reader.) I don’t get why some people would say that this is their favorite book of the year. I don’t get how this became the literary darling this year….I guess it all still comes down to reading tastes. One reader indeed is different from the other.

I didn’t quite grasp what the story was about. Was it about her life? Her story of growing in the city? Her going away and finding herself? Finding love? Heartbreak? Of being forced to grow up alone? The reality of life? It just seemed like a little of everything. It was just the victim of poor cohesiveness. I didn’t know up until the end what the story was building into. I didn’t know the central goal or the central point which it was aiming for.

And all of these factors just poured one on top of another that the story failed to beguile me and to just lose myself within it. It failed to catch me by the neck and say Please read it, read it, you have to know what happens in the end.  I’m kind of sad that I read it half-heartedly. Instead, I just read it “just to know what the hype about this thing is.” But apparently, I still don’t understand all the rave about it still.

But this is what I have observed all throughout the book, it dropped truth-bombs everywhere. Like bam there’s a truth of life right there. And bam okay here’s another one. And in that sense, it was quite good. I’ll say it again: this book is a gold mine of good thoughts that applies to you (more or less, haha).

So, yeah. Mixed feelings, I guess. With all my heart, I wanted to like this book. But I just really cannot. Everything just converges to me just not liking it.

P.S. I didn’t mean to be harsh. I just wanted to voice out what I thought of the book. And frankly, I don’t see the sense of me trying to say something when I’m thinking of another. Faking my thoughts on it won’t do this little space of mine any good. I hope I didn’t sound so harsh and mean. I was just trying to tell my opinions on it and my take on the book. Here’s to reality.

Do I recommend it? No. Sorry.


Gif via Giphy


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