I’m a bit late to the party on this one. I bought Sweetbitter last summer after it popped up on just about every reading list I came across. The author, Stephanie Danler, wrote the book about her experience as a server in New York and the restaurant is based on one of my personal favorites, Union Square Cafe. I finally got around to reading it last week. I wasn’t expecting to be blown away – I knew there were mixed reviews – but I was surprised to find that I really enjoyed it.
While I’ll admit there were portions of the book I didn’t love, I found that I loved the way she wrote about things, more than the story itself. Many times I read something and immediately thought to myself that I had felt the same way at one point. Her descriptions, less of New York, more of the way it feels to live there, dovetailed with my own experiences. She moved to the city two years before I did, two years older. That part of her experience felt personal to me.
There’s one moment where she describes how she feels about living in New York: “It is ludicrous for anyone to live here and I can never leave.” It so perfectly sums up my own feelings, and the internal conflict I felt when I finally made the choice to leave. Read this book, and don’t rush it. Also, have a glass of wine handy. The descriptions will make you thirsty.