Book Rating (40)
Narrator Rating (8)

Sweetbitter: A Novel

Unabridged Audio Book

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Alex McKenna

12 Hours 24 Minutes

Random House (Audio)

May 2016

Audio Book Summary

INSTANT NATIONAL BESTSELLER  *  A thrilling novel of the senses and a coming-of-age tale, following a small-town girl into the electrifying world of New York City and the education of a lifetime at one of the most exclusive restaurants in Manhattan.  Perfect for readers of Kitchen Confidential and Blood, Bones and Butter. 

Twenty-two, and knowing no one, Tess leaves home to begin her adult life in New York City. Thus begins a year that is both enchanting and punishing, in a low-level job at “the best restaurant in New York City.” Grueling hours and a steep culinary learning curve awaken her to the beauty of oysters, the finest Champagnes, the appellations of Burgundy. At the same time, she opens herself to friendships—and love—set against the backdrop of dive bars and late nights.  As her appetites sharpen—for food and wine, but also for knowledge, experience, and belonging—Tess is drawn into a darkly alluring love triangle that will prove to be her most exhilarating and painful lesson of all. 
Stephanie Danler deftly conjures the nonstop and purely adrenalized world of the restaurant—conversations interrupted, phrases overheard, and suggestions below the surface. Evoking the infinite possibility of being young in New York with heart-stopping accuracy, Sweetbitter is ultimately about the power of what remains after disillusionment, and the wisdom that comes from experience, sweet and bitter.

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  • Anonymous

    This would make a good movie with a bit of editing and careful thought about which key elements of the human experience would be best to highlight (there are a lot of themes, insinuations, and partial insights). The food service industry has been triple hit with addiction problems, immigration pressures, and COVID shutdowns. It could be the right time to envision a restaurant industry with more of the highs (strengths) and less of the lows (weaknesses) - or maybe the pull of drama will always be stronger than the pull of community. Regardless, Danler does a 4.5 star job in it's depiction. Personally, I would have like a different narrator (sounded 18, and not fully engaged in playing the character - and extra readers for some of the parts.

    Book Rating

  • Anonymous

    Very very hard to listen to. I hate it. I wish I could return it!

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  • Donna Mik

    Just not my cup of tea or glass of wine. Such a struggle to listen and to figure out what the heck was going on! I had to finish as I wasn't going to waste 23 dollars! Wish I had read other reviews before purchasing. The author must be doing something right as it it on best seller list. Kudos to her and her ability to write a book. I just did not get it. Maybe I needed to work in a restaurant.

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  • Linda Hancock

    I, too, was looking forward to this book, based on a podcast I'd just heard interviewing the author. But only 5 minutes in, I realized I could not go on: the narrator's "vocal fry" was so annoying a couldn't concentrate, so I've already deleted the book from my list. I'm sorry I purchased without reading the other reviews...

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  • Vanessa Carley

    I was really looking forward to reading this book because I used to work in the restaurant industry. While the author did a good job describing food, taste, texture and scent, I feel the story fell flat on plot. It felt more like a stage play the way a lot of it played out. A lot of snippets but not actual scenes that lead somewhere to push the story along. Halfway through the book I couldn't even remember what the main characters name was (Tess). I get that it's a coming of age story about a girl trying to figure herself out and making incredibly stupid choices, but the main character never really grows. Does she learn a thing or two? Yes, but she doesn't actually grow. In the end she was still making decisions that were dumb as rocks. With that being said, the author did accurately describe restaurant employee culture. It very much becomes a world within a world where work and real life blend. Sometimes the line blurs too much and you have to take a step back. In the story a lot of the employees did coke and got wasted every night. Does that really happen in restaurants? Yes. Now can you work in one and make a lot of money without getting high and drunk? Absolutely. I know I was able to. Perhaps that's why on some levels I could relate to the story but on so many other levels I just wanted to facepalm myself! I could not relate to Tess at all. She was smart but acted and talked so incredibly dumb. At one point in the story someone tells her that she's chosen to play the slut role instead of the smart role. That was exactly what I thought of her. She ALLOWED the people around her to treat her like a dumb girl and then she wondered why? I never felt bad for her. I just really wanted her to wake up. Had I been her coworker I would have shook her shoulders and told her to wake up! Maybe that the reaction the author wanted? Overall the story left me feeling kind of meh (shoulder shrug). I wanted more from this book but it didn't satisfy my appetite.

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