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Thursday, November 29, 2018

#Book #Review: 3 out of 5 stars for The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender @AimeeBender @doubledaybooks

AUTHOR: Aimee Bender
PUBLISHER: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
FORMAT: Hardcover
LENGTH: 292 pages
GENRE: Magical Realism, Fantasy
ISBN: 9780385501125
The wondrous Aimee Bender conjures the lush and moving story of a girl whose magical gift is really a devastating curse.

On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents’ attention, bites into her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the cake. She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother—her cheerful, good-with-crafts, can-do mother—tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes a peril and a threat to Rose.

The curse her gift has bestowed is the secret knowledge all families keep hidden—her mother’s life outside the home, her father’s detachment, her brother’s clash with the world. Yet as Rose grows up she learns to harness her gift and becomes aware that there are secrets even her taste buds cannot discern.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is a luminous tale about the enormous difficulty of loving someone fully when you know too much about them. It is heartbreaking and funny, wise and sad, and confirms Aimee Bender’s place as “a writer who makes you grateful for the very existence of language” (San Francisco Chronicle).


This one is definitely a little out there!

Just before her ninth birthday, something unusual happens to Rose. As she samples her mother's homemade lemon cake with chocolate frosting, she tastes an emptiness in her mouth that makes her ask whether her mom is okay. Her mom just brushes it off, but then later her mom admits that she wants to quit her job because she wants to do something creative with her hands.

Unfortunately for Rose, this was not just a weird fluke. When takes a bite of food, she can sense the emotions of the person who made it. She can even break down the ingredients and discern where the eggs came from and if the chickens were happy when they laid them and where the beef came from. She finds this unusual gift too overwhelming and, instead, tries to eat as much processed food as possible that has been made in factories and untouched by human hands for the most part.

When Rose can taste her mother's deception and affair, that made me feel really sad for Rose. That would just be plain torture for a child to be saddled with such a big secret. I really hated Rose's mom for that. While Rose's dad is a little self-absorbed and totally hands-off in terms of raising his own children, his role as a provider for the family is one that he is good at. He isn't so good at the nurturing part.

Where the book got REALLY weird was with what was going on with Rose's brother, Joseph. At times, he would disappear for days or longer and come back malnourished. No one knew where he went or what happened to him during these periods of absence, but that is revealed at the end of the book.

What bothered me about the format of the book is that there are no quotation marks. It drove me batty!! Instead of: "Or a toaster oven?" Carl said, making sparky sale motions with his hands; we get: Or a toaster oven? Carl said, making sparky sale motions with his hands. For me, I found that it slowed down the pace of my reading because I had to sometimes read sentences over twice to figure out whether or not someone was actually speaking.

I really enjoyed Rose's storyline, but I have to admit that I could have done without the even stranger one concerning Joseph. I just didn't get that!


3 stars!! It was good, and I enjoyed it.

This book qualifies as:


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