Title: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
Author: Aimee Bender
Published: June 26, 2010
My Star Rating (out of 5): ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
This book blew me away. I hadn’t even heard of it till last week while listening to one of my favorite podcasts, What Should I Read Next. The guest on September 17, 2019, episode said it was one of his favorite books. And the author — Aimee Bender… I hadn’t heard of her either. (I am continually humbled and irritated by how far out of the loop I am. Nonetheless…)
As I listened to his brief description of the book, it was enough to pique my interest. So I logged into my library’s OverDrive system and requested the e-book. It came in in just a few days. (Golly, I love borrowing e-books for free from the library!)
The main character, a child named Rose, suddenly starts to taste emotions in her food. More specifically, the emotions of whoever made, plucked, or prepared what she’s eating.
This first happens just before Rose’s ninth birthday when her mom makes a lemon-chocolate cake from scratch. When Rose takes her first bite, “…it seemed that my mouth was also filling with the taste of smallness, the sensation of shrinking, of upset, tasting a distance I somehow knew was connected to my mother…in each bite: absence, hunger, spiraling, hollows.”
And indeed, her mom was feeling all of that.
The novel will eventually reveal where those emotions lead her mom. The novel will also show us how difficult Rose’s life becomes with all this unwanted knowledge and how she handles it as she grows older.
Rose’s brother, Joseph, seems even more troubled than Rose. But why? No spoilers here, but I think it is worth reading to find out!
And her Dad. Well, he should not to be taken at face value either.
I am a sensitive reader. But this book did not depress me. I just kept thinking: How interesting! How beautiful! Really? It works like that? Oh! Wow!
It was a quick half-day read for me, taking maybe 5 hours.
If you are the type of reader who rolls her eyes at the thought of a main character being able to taste others’ emotions, then this book obviously will not be for you.
And I completely understand. – What one reader savors, another dreads. So no judgment here!
But if you like it when a “normal” family living a “normal” American life just happens to have one or two (or more) quirks, then please give this one a try! Above all else, for me, this book was about relationships. And I love books about relationships.
I loved it so much that I have ordered the hardcopy. – Because I need it to be a part of my bookshelf.
Have you read The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake? If so, please share your thoughts in the comments! And if not, what are you reading lately? And are you on the road reading? If so, where?