'The Bartender's Cure' by Wesley Straton
Updated: Sep 30, 2022
Sam doesn't want to be a bartender, but after a spectacularly disastrous breakup, she's left her fiancé behind and moved from the West Coast back to NYC where she went to undergrad. Her best friend still lives there and is letting her crash on her sofa until she figures things out, but Sam is smart enough to know that that arrangement has a very short self life. She needs to make some money, and make it now, so that she can get her own place and figure things out.
Through a friend of a friend, she gets a lead on a bartending gig and goes into Joe's Apothecary, a neighborhood spot in Brooklyn with lots of character, and also lots of characters. Over time, working behind the bar, Sam gains the confidence of the other staff and the owner, and even becomes fast friends with a few of them. While there, she learns a lot about bartending, but far more about herself. Through a series of gradual reveals, we learn that having ended a relationship and moved across country is the least of Sam's worries. She's only twenty-three but dealing with a lot of seriously grown-up problems, not the least of which is trying to figure out what she wants to do with the rest of her life.
Through her relationships with the bar staff, the regulars and a seriously hot new love interest, Sam very gradually figures herself out. I listened to this book (thank you, NetGalley) and thoroughly enjoyed it, and its narrator. Interspersed with Sam's life story enfolding through her recollections, are the histories (real and fictional) of the cocktails and drinks she serves, all of them entertaining in their own right but cleverly placed so that they have relevance and meaning for Sam and the reader (or in my case, listener). I rarely enjoy coming-of-age stories, sometimes finding them too obvious in their efforts to dole out life lessons. In this novel, that wasn't the case. I felt like Sam's ending wasn't too pat, or too obvious. We get the sense of an ending, if that makes sense. Just enough to make you satisfied, and yet remain curious about where this young woman will be in say, five years from now. Recommended for a light, but not at all shallow read.
My rating: ⭑⭑⭑⭑