A Novel

Book - 2016
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""Let's say I was born when I came over the George Washington Bridge..." This is how we meet unforgettable Tess, the 22-year-old at the heart of this stunning debut. Shot like a bullet from a mundane past, she's come to New York to escape the provincial, to take on her destiny. After she stumbles into a coveted job at a renowned Union Square restaurant, we spend the year with her as she learns the chaotic, punishing, privileged life of a "backwaiter," on and off duty. Her appetites are awakened, for food, wine, knowledge and experience; and she's pulled into the thrall of two other servers--a handsome bartender she falls hard for, and an older woman whose connection to both young lovers is murky, sensual, and overpowering. These two will prove to be Tess's hardest lesson of all."--
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2016
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781101875940
Characteristics: 352 p. ; 23 cm


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jen480480 Jul 19, 2017

I had high hopes for this book, especially considering all of the hype, but I couldn't get past the first few chapters. The writing was spastic at best, the author did a poor job of introducing the characters and giving me a reason to feel emotionally invested in them (this is particularly true of the protagonist), and every chapter followed the same plot line. Yawn.

MichelleM_3 May 10, 2017

I really like the book. I like the author's writing. What I enjoyed the most about the book was the author's ability to transport the reader into Tess's world which is the restaurant. You kind of get sucked in the way she does. It all seems intoxicating. What I disliked about the book was that our main character, Tess, remains stagnant but I believe the author wasn't really interested in changing her too much. The book felt more focused on the restaurant's environment and how it can affect people; the customers and employees alike.

PinesandPrejudice Mar 20, 2017

This was one the worst books I have ever read. I finished hoping the main character would change, learn something, redeem herself -- but alas, she remained stupid, ignorant and annoying the entire time. The characters were pretentious, flat, dull, and unnecessarily "messed up".

The format was confusing -- especially if you try to listen to it on audiobook. There was nothing exciting. It was full of stupid, self-harming choices that I felt no sympathy toward.

Also, I had NO IDEA what time period this took place in which was ridiculously annoying.

In short, reading this book was a waste of my life.

athompson10 Mar 02, 2017

Every time I eat at Union Square Cafe, I'll remember this book.

Feb 22, 2017

I really enjoyed this book. I read it on vacation and had it done in 3 days. Some people describe her writing as lacking character development but I thought it was more about leaving details unsaid. You don't even learn her name for a few hundred pages, and that is intentional. It leaves it quite esoteric and to your own assumptions (and imagination) and I really enjoyed that. I love a mix of food-literature and a love story so this was a great mix of the two.

Feb 07, 2017

Not a bad book, but I went into it hoping for more food and less about the drunken revels of the main character. Not bad but not great, imho.

wendybird Dec 19, 2016

Like legions before her, 22 year old Tess decides to leave her small town life and try and find her own version of the "go to New York City and live the dream" story. Her first steps are lucky and true - she lands a decent first job as a "backwaiter" at a famous Manhattan restaurant, circa 2006. Told in the first person, we learn along with her about the wines of the world, oysters, artisan coffee, and other fine cuisine luxuries. On the other side of the ledger, Tess and readers see the grimy NYC stuff, too : cocaine, alcohol mainlining, cruel coworkers. There is nothing extraordinary, in a sense, in this coming of age American story or in its language - but what is worth notice is how true it all rings. The author has taken all this and made a compelling, adventurous read. There are glimpses of hope among the rubble, and love among the dirty bar towels. I'll be reading more Stephanie Danler, along with all the starry eyed reviewers for Publisher's Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and Elle.

Dec 01, 2016

This HAS to be the authors first book & perhaps she'll improve. As it stands, very annoying writing & character development. It felt like she was trying. Trying to be a writer. The food/wine/industry bits are intriguing, but the storyline is blasé. Actually its inspired me to write a better version, so, not a total waste of my time.

Nov 25, 2016

The author is trying so hard to be "literary" in her descriptions that she forgets that she needs an engaging story as well. Her individual paragraphs are beautiful but the story is so slow and boring that I gave up after about 30 pages.

Nov 08, 2016

The premise for this book was intriguing to me but failed to hold my interest. I kept waiting for the character to develop but she remained very shallow and I was uninterested in what happened next.

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