Jul 29, 2010

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

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).


Do you ever try to read a book where you just can't relate to the characters? Unfortunately, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake was one of those books for me.

I really tried to get into the story of Rose and her ability to taste the emotions of whoever prepared the food that she eats. It is not very often that I give up on a book without completing it, but this one just wasn't for me.

I have read many other reviews on this book, and the general consensus is that the story is profound yet humorous. Some reviews declare that the story is full of wisdom and sadness. I wasn't able to find these elements, and my reaction is simply that the book is bizarre. The author's lack of punctuation is a style of writing that I find difficult to read, and it was hard to distinguish between thoughts and conversation between the characters.

Overall, I have to admit that I was disappointed in this book.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake from Doubleday, in exchange for my honest review. I received no compensation for my thoughts.

1 comment:

  1. I too, was dissapointed in the book. I felt like I was getting the "fast forward" of a story. It kept jumping ahead, with no real reason too. The characters weren't involving enough for me to feel any sadness or anything else for them.