Jul 302014


The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

Series: AWARDS: ALA: Youth Media Award Winners 2011
Hardcover: 292 pages
Publisher: Doubleday; 1 edition (June 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0385501129
ISBN-13: 978-0385501125

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.

This was our July read for the book club @  The Kitchen Reader and I was so excited to read this, in fact it was my suggestion, so I can’t wait to see what everyone else thought of it.

First of all, can you imagine what it would be like to “taste” the emotions of the person who made the food you’re eating? That would be a bit too much for me to handle mentally. Sure, it would be fun at first, but I think it would get old rather quickly. And here is Rose, only 9 years old having to deal with it. She was definitely my favorite character.

I liked this book, but not as much as I thought I would. Still, I’d give it a 3 star.

The book was fun to read, the theme was very different, but the family relationships were strained and I was left without closure concerning them.

The food aspect of the book was the best part for me. So much good food throughout the book. There was a lot of mention of the recipes, and I wish there had been some included in the book.

I had been wanting to read this since it was published, and I guess I had it so built up in my head that it could never have matched my expectations. Still, I thought it was a good book, and it was the first I’ve read by this author.

  7 Responses to “Review: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender”

  1. That is an interesting premise. I think being able to taste emotions would be a gift at some times and a curse at others.

  2. I had such high hopes for this one and I just couldn’t finish it. I was so disappointed. I’m glad you enjoyed it so much. It has really had mixed reviews.

  3. I loved Bender’s first book, but when I tried this one on audio I stopped after the first disc, planning to go back and try again someday. If you haven’t already try An Invisible Sign of My Own. It’s quirky goodness 🙂

  4. I have to confess that I gave up with this book after a few chapters in keeping with my motto that life is too short to read books you don’t enjoy. I found that it stretched the food analogy too far. Glad you made it to the end though :o)

  5. I also found the family relationships a bit baffling. Rose’s parents were mystifying to me, both in their relationships with each other and with their children. But I think reading this pointed out to me that we barely know people until we purposefully get to know them deeply. You are right about the food–some of the descriptions were brilliant.

  6. I wish we could have seen what happens to Rose as she was just discovering that the burden of her curse could also be a gift at the end of the book as she becomes more independent and an adult

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