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3.31  ·  Rating details ·  63,457 ratings  ·  6,982 reviews
The bestselling novel about a young woman's coming-of-age, set against the glitzy, grimy backdrop of New York's most elite restaurants. Now a STARZ Original Series.

Newly arrived in New York City, twenty-two-year-old Tess lands a job as a "backwaiter" at a celebrated downtown Manhattan restaurant. What follows is the story of her education: in champagne and cocaine, love an
Hardcover, 356 pages
Published May 24th 2016 by Knopf
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Gina Nope. Bloated prose, pretentious characters, and Tess remains a whiny, needy puppy. I finished it but just barely.
Cheramy While I would generally recommend supporting your local, independent bookstore; in this case I have to recommend your local library first! Many librar…moreWhile I would generally recommend supporting your local, independent bookstore; in this case I have to recommend your local library first! Many libraries throughout the country have excellent eBook programs so you can borrow books on your eReader, as well as borrowing physical books. We need to ensure that we support the institutions that will guarantee that future generations also have access to a wide range of literature.
Light & love to all.(less)

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Average rating 3.31  · 
Rating details
 ·  63,457 ratings  ·  6,982 reviews

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Jun 05, 2016 rated it did not like it
If Sweetbitter is the book of the summer, then clearly I need a new season. I could not find one reason to understand why the reviews of this book were as good as they were. Most of them seem to center around how well they say the author describes food. As someone who has been deeply interested in food writing since high school, I can deem her merely adequate. This book is the ne plus ultra of terrible MFA writing. The self-indulgent meandering that the reader is forced to endure as the dimwitte ...more
Dec 01, 2021 marked it as will-not-finish
y’all ever relize a book is gonna annoy the shit out of u after about 7 seconds of reading?? lol DNF @ 2% 😅😅😅
Jun 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
I work in a bookstore in an affluent neighborhood. Today, the following conversation occurred:

Customer: I want to return this book! (plunks Sweetbitter down on the counter)

Me: Okay, what was wrong with it?

Customer: It was stupid!

Me: Oh, I really liked it! But I could see how someone could find it kind of pretentious.

Customer: Yeah, all those waiters going around quoting Kant and Fitzgerald. It was ridiculous!

Me: (surprised, as this had not been what I'd meant at all) Oh...

Customer: A whole book
Frances Dowell
Jun 01, 2016 rated it liked it
This is one of those "I really wanted to like it" books. The sentence-level writing is gorgeous, and the subject matter--working in a high end NYC restaurant--is (for some of us) nearly irresistible. And at first I liked Sweetbitter very much. Young girl moves to New York, gets an amazing job, is immersed in the life of the city ... What's not to like?

But after a hundred pages or so (maybe even fewer), I started to get frustrated. While I was enjoying protagonist Tess's introduction to fine food
Joachim Stoop
Feb 07, 2016 rated it it was ok
I apologies in advance for sounding hard and harsh in this review...

So... one of the most anticipated books of 2016 according to some (literary and press) sources.
In their reviews and in the first GR-reviews it was said to be 'Anthony Bourdain meets Jay McInerney with a sprinkling of Siri Hustvedt.'

So Anthony Bourdain? Tough luck I just read his Kitchen Confidential. Sweetbitter is supposed to 'engulf your gastronomic senses'. Except for a short episode of eating a first oyster, the first (and o
Feb 02, 2016 rated it it was ok
Hmmm . . . Where to start when reviewing Sweetbitter? My desire to read it can certainly be attributed to the Hype Monster and a serious case of Cover Lust. People were raving about this one long before the release date, and it was hotly anticipated ever since Stephanie Danlier's book deal was announced. Also, the cover lured me in the first time I saw it. I mean look at at it; it's just so striking.

I went out and bought the novel right away because of the glowing reviews and that striking image
May 24, 2016 rated it liked it
It's weird - I couldn't put this one down and at the same time I was slightly annoyed the whole time I was reading. The descriptions of working in a restaurant are good, as are the food and wine discussions/descriptions, and they kept me going thru all the bar scenes and bumps of cocaine and thoughts that seemed too mature for a 22-year-old who was the opposite of mature.
Enjoyable but just not my favorite.
Elyse  Walters
Update --
Chat about the Series?/! ....
Has anyone watched this? Thoughts?

Paul and I just discovered it (Amazon Prime Video). The interesting, diversified cast makes the show intriguing.
The leading actress, "Ella Summer" (an English actress best known for her role as Jackie in the Showtime drama series Yellowjackets, which I haven't seen) ... must be 'THE MOST BEAUTIFUL' (drop dead gorgeous) actress in show business. Its hard to take your eyes off of her -- (and speaking of 'eyes' > WOW > they ar
Siena Mirabella
Dec 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I have a new appreciation for this book, reading it the second time. One of my favorites. I adore Stephanie's writing, sis needs to come out with another one 🙏🏼 ...more
Leigh Ellis
Jun 06, 2016 rated it did not like it
I love a good coming-of-age story, but 98% of this book was/is unbearable.

Here's a sampling:


""Your eyes. It's unmistakeable," he said. He thumbed my cheekbone. "Veiled melancholy has her sovereign shrine."

His hand moved up my cheek, flushing me, into my hair, where he tugged, his fingers dry, nonchalant. His other hand pressed into the bruise on my thigh, as he could intuit the blood below the skin.

When he kissed me I said, Oh my god into his mouth but that, like everything else,
Jun 10, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book is completely full of itself and full of shit.
Larry H
Jun 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
"I wanted to say, My life is full. I chose this life because it's a constant assault of color and taste and light and it's raw and ugly and fast and it's mine. And you'll never understand. Until you live it, you don't know."

When we first meet Tess in the summer of 2006, she has just left home and driven to New York without any real plans, just a rented room in an apartment in Williamsburg. She somehow manages to find a job as a "backwaiter" at a famous New York restaurant, and it changes her lif
Jul 24, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: unfinished, food
I couldn't finish this book. I checked it out because the novel had been hyped, and generally I like foodie stories, but the writing in this was too on-the-nose and I was groaning by page 5. For example, in the beginning she writes about driving to New York to "escape" from her hometown and its "twin pillars of football and church." ARGH.

I skimmed ahead and didn't see much to improve my opinion. Maybe you will like it more.
It's a coming-of-age story, not the one about all the realisations that come with entering your teens, but the more painful and laborious one about becoming an adult, learning to look after yourself. It's the year of your life you learn that you can't transform into someone you idolise through mimicry alone, and idiotically debasing yourself for love will get you nowhere worth going. The protagonist is twenty-two when she drives into New York: Let's say I was born in late June of 2006 when I cam ...more
Jan 16, 2022 marked it as to-read
my instagram friend said people hate this book because it has pretentious dialogue, and i immediately added it ...more
I’m willing to go out on a limb and call Sweetbitter my novel of 2016. Twenty-two-year-old Tess arrives in New York City by car in June 2006. Two days later she interviews at a restaurant in Union Square and gets a job as a backwaiter and barista. Camaraderie makes the restaurant not just bearable but a kind of substitute home. Tess is most fascinated by two colleagues who stand apart from the crowd: Simone, the resident wine know-it-all, and bartender Jake. Try as she might, Tess can’t work out ...more
Nancy Baker
Jun 02, 2016 rated it did not like it
I kept wanting to get to the part where I cared. The book started out promising, but then just dissolved. Much like the restaurant being condemned for its "architecture", this book falls apart because it becomes a drunken, drug-filled morass. ...more
Skyler Autumn
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
5 Stars

This book was everything I didn't know I was craving in my next read. A rich and immersive ode to the service industry, an industry I currently work in because writing is not paying the bills just yet. Maybe I'm slightly bias but this romanticized nod to a less then glamorous job and lifestyle made me revaluate and actually appreciate the hectic, frustrating and at times unbearable atmosphere that is the behind the scenes at any major restaurant.

Sweetbitter is a coming-of-age novel cen
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

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Okay, so I found this book in a Little Free Library and it looked really fun. I'd actually heard of it-- and I'm usually the last to hear about anything, so that said something. Looking at the critical reviews kind of upset me, though, because one of the common complaints I saw was that it was unrealistic for people working in a service position to be so familiar with literary references and allusions and aspire to, you know, the sweet l
Oct 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-of-2016
I really liked this coming-of-age story set in the milieu of a high-end New York City restaurant. It does get off to a slow start and the writing style takes some getting used to but if you like complex and often unlikeable characters, this may be for you.

Tess comes to New York City as a young adult with no plans and no resources. She unexpectedly gets a job as a backwaiter (plate clearer, drink bearer, dinner deliverer, table service setter) in a very upscale restaurant. The story traces a year
Julie Ehlers
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
Sometimes when I'm reading a novel I picture one of those kids' toys that's basically a rectangular box with holes in it, and the toddler is meant to use a toy hammer to pound different-shaped pegs into the holes. (This is a real toy, right? I'm not imagining it?) When I picture this toy it's usually bad news for the book, because the pegs are never all pounded in the way they're supposed to be. They're sticking out all over, and no one has bothered to take the time to make everything fit togeth ...more
Diane Barnes
May 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
I started this book without knowing exactly what I would find. Some reviewers considered it their best book of the year, others found it just ho-hum, some hated it, and more than a few abandoned it after a few pages. I decided to jump in because I love reading about food and wine and behind the scenes action at restaurants. I figured I could DNF it if it proved no good.

I was enthralled from the beginning. A 22 year old lands a job at a high priced Union Square restaurant in NYC. From a rube who
Aug 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: from-library, 2019
Somewhere inside Sweetbitter is a good story. A young woman from a small town moves to New York, and spends a year working in a restaurant learning about food, wine, and love. Not an original story, mind you, but at least a good one.

Sadly, Sweetbitter is not that book. Tess is a rather frustrating narrator: naïve, and determined to make certain mistakes no matter how many people warn her beforehand. Jake, the object of her affection, is more of an archetype than a developed character. The only r
May 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book just wasn't for me. Stephanie Danler shows promise as a writer (this is her debut novel), but she's not a natural storyteller. "Sweetbitter" has zero plot, and the characters were paper thin. The protagonist, Tess, lands a job in an upscale restaurant in New York City, and that's pretty much the whole plot. "Sweetbitter" was pretentious as hell. Ugh. Tess basically speaks in a bunch of random, confusing thoughts about herself, her job, and her bland co-workers. Big whoop! I didn't feel ...more
Bonnie Brody
Mar 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
Stephanie Danler, a new-comer to the literary scene, has a poet's flair for words. The only unfortunate aspect of the novel is that the narrative is extraordinarily boring. It revolves around a young woman named Tess who drives to New York City from America's heartland in order to make a life for herself. She finds a shared apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and quickly gets a job at one of the top restaurants in Union Square (think Union Cafe). From there on, the reader is informed about the g ...more
Jun 07, 2016 rated it did not like it
You know how sometimes you can't stop hearing about some fabulous restaurant in town, that one you have to try and have to get reservations really far in advance if you don't want to go at 9:30 on a Wednesday night, that one with the famous chef who's really a white girl but makes amazing Spanish tapas and has changed the food scene forever? And then maybe you go and it turns out it really does taste like food that was made in a gas station, and not in an edgy way but in a gas station way?

Jul 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, food, wine
“Appetite is not a symptom,.. It’s a state of being, and like most, has its attendant moral consequences.”

Sexy, racy, indulgent.. .an enlightening dive into life within a restaurant. It felt authentic and raw, a full sensory & gustatory experience.. for which reason, I recommend this book be read accompanied by a glass of wine. With all the drinking, drugging, and embarrassing mistakes made by the protagonist, you will need it. She bares her soul and the soul of the restaurant industry. I have n
Nov 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
I finally read this novel. It has been on my tbr list since it was published. It was everything I thought it was going to be.

Tess is 22 and finds herself in New York City wanting to make a start somewhere exciting. A tough place to be without a plan, but she finds a job in an upscale restaurant despite not having experience. She carves a space for herself in this industry starting at the bottom as a backwaiter. Following her ups and downs is a pleasure to read. The people, management, food, wine
Jun 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-release
I am not the kind of person who cheerfully serves people. I discovered this when I worked my first secretarial job, which I like to think of as the piece of driftwood I clung to as I abandoned the sinking ship that is public education in Kansas. After four years of grading papers, chaperoning dances, and (once) breaking up a girlfight, I was delighted to work in an office staffed with professional, sane adults. Mostly my tasks involved answering the phone and moving papers around, but one day ou ...more
May 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
4.5 This was great, I loved it! I could not put it down. Great characters, great writing! I can't wait to watch the mini series. I also look forward to more from this writer. ...more
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Play Book Tag: Sweetbitter, by Stephanie Danler- 3 Stars 1 22 Jan 24, 2019 12:11PM  
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Stephanie Danler is a writer based in Brooklyn, New York. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the New School. Sweetbitter is her debut novel.

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“It’s an epidemic with women your age. A gross disparity between the way that they speak and the quality of thoughts that they’re having about the world. They are taught to express themselves in slang, in clichés, sarcasm—all of which is weak language. The superficiality of the language colors the experiences, rendering them disposable instead of assimilated. And then to top it all, you call yourselves ‘girls.’ ” 97 likes
“I wanted to say, My life is full. I chose this life because it's a constant assault of color and taste and light and it's raw and ugly and fast and it's mine. And you'll never understand. Until you live it, you don't know.” 69 likes
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