Published by Knopf on May 24 2016
Genres: coming of age, food
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Powell's • Indiebound
Tess arrives in New York to start over. First up: apartment, then job. She tells herself any waitress or barista job will do. But she strolls into one of the best restaurants in the city and walks out with a job.
Starting on her first day of work, Tess gets wrapped up into the sometimes high school-like drama that is working at a restaurant. If you have ever read Kitchen Confidential you know what to expect: drugs and debauchery.
Now that I have had time to ponder this book as a whole I realize that the plot is like a teen movie: Tess becomes entranced by the cool girl Simone, who shoes her the topes, and falls for the stereotypical bad-boy Jake. He wears a leather jacket and drives a motorcycle (that is how you know he is the bad boy) while nice boy Will waiting patiently on the sidelines for Tess to notice him. There are obscene amounts of booze, everyone takes pills and snorts coke in the bathroom, and sex and hook-ups among the staff is commonplace.
Don’t let the plot fool you. It is the words that make this book magical. The writing is sharp and intense. This is the type of book that you devoir. Absorbing it quickly before the buzz wears off.
“Let’s say I was born when I came over the George Washington Bridge…”
This is how we meet unforgettable Tess, the twenty-two-year-old at the heart of this stunning first novel. Shot from a mundane, provincial past, she’s come to New York to look for a life she can’t define, except as a burning drive to become someone, to belong somewhere. 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 duty and off. Her appetites—for food, wine, knowledge, and every kind of experience—are awakened. And she’s pulled into the magnetic thrall of two other servers—a handsome bartender she falls hard for, and an older woman she latches onto with an orphan’s ardor.