FICTION

Sweetbitter

Knopf. May 2016. 352p. ISBN 9781101875940. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781101875957. F
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Tess is a Midwestern 22-year-old who escapes to New York City to discover herself. She lands a job at a Union Square restaurant and begins her search for a place to belong. The "new girl" in every sense, Tess is certain of her immortality; she works, studies to learn about wine, drinks excessively, and counters the alcohol with cocaine—all with the diner staff who become her family. She falls for a 30-year-old bartender and is befriended by a server who runs the restaurant. There is a backstory between these new friends, but Tess doesn't quite understand it. In her naïveté, she believes her new love can erase the past, until she discovers otherwise. Danler's debut captures the wild abandon of youth set free in a environment where there are no rules. The characters are well drawn, realistic, and enigmatic. Tess's fresh outlook contrasts with the jaded lives of the other employees.
VERDICT This first novel is recommended for general fiction readers, especially those with an interest in food and wine. Public and academic libraries will want to purchase. [See Prepub Alert, 11/23/15.]

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