Review: Sweetbitter

by Stephanie Danler
Knopf, 2016

This book is a feast of small plates and generous pours of lyrical, poetic prose. Insecure main character Tess, 22, isn't sure what she wants out of life but plunges into a high-paced, intense job serving at "one of the top" NYC restaurants. Yearning for sensual experiences - and an alluring bartender, Jake - Tess finds herself spinning in binges of booze, drugs, and emotions. The tension between Tess' entrapment and freedom is just as seductive as her first sliver of heirloom, "tie-dyed pink and red" tomato. "So - some tomatoes tasted like water, and some tasted like summer lightning." There are elements of emotional abuse (in the relationship, and from various co-workers). Lightning in any season is gorgeous, but can also be violent.

Torrey Douglass