The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

Happy New Year! I’ve been horrible and haven’t updated at all. I’m currently four books behind. I’ve been snatching up quick reads and devouring them, so that in combination with my natural-bred procrastination skills has led to a staggering to-write pile.

I found this book recommended by someone I like. I looked it up on Amazon and became very intrigued, then I saw that it was available right at my own library and I went by the next day to snatch it up. I don’t know what it is about this book that made me want to put it in front of everything else on my list, but I don’t regret it.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is about a little girl named Rose who, on her ninth birthday, discovers that she possesses an unusual talent: she can feel in her food the emotions of whoever made it. The first time it happens is when she tries a bite of the lemon cake her mother made her for her birthday and was flooded with sadness and hopelessness- feelings she never knew were hiding under her mother’s calm, even cheerful facade. Naturally, she can’t tell anyone about this. Who would believe her?

Rose grows to dread meals, especially food made by her own family. She hunts out pre-packaged junkfood and frozen dinners, anything made in a factory with as little human contact as possible. Meanwhile, her family environment is a bit rocky. Her father is supportive, but distant, her mother seeks help outside the family, and her brother is the biggest puzzle of all. Wonderfully smart at things like science, he has difficulty- and no real desire- to fit in.

The only person Rose can talk to is George, her brother’s best friend, who inexplicably believes and even encourages her when she tells him about her bizarre talent.

This book was fantastic. It was one where I had to stop every twenty pages just to absorb how incredible it was. At the end of every chapter I thought to myself, just one more. It was so hard to put down. It was narrated by Rose, but with the hindsight and wry humor of someone looking back at herself as a child. The language was beautiful, and I found myself wanting to highlight the most well-spoken passages. There were even a few places where you kind of had to turn it all over and go, ‘huh?’

As the book progresses, Rose ages into her early twenties. She starts looking for ways to use her ability- rather than hide from it. She starts looking for good food made by happy people.

The ‘magic’ element in this book is very, very subtle, and it led me to wondering- could this actually be happening? Think for a moment, what if there were people who had these strange ‘superpowers’ that couldn’t be explained by science or medicine, but they keep it to themselves and nobody knows about it?

All in all, a fantastic book. It draws you right in and holds you tight and there was a little period after I finished it where I didn’t know what to do with myself. Give this one a read if you have a chance.

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Published in: on January 8, 2012 at 9:27 pm  Leave a Comment  
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