The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake By Aimee Bender


In case you folks haven’t figured it out yet,  I love food. This blog is about food, so it’s only natural that my frist review be based on a book about…… you guessed, it food!

When I think of food, the happiest adjectives fill my mind. Yum, warm, gooey, that fulfilling feeling you get when you take your first bite of a piping hot plate of your favorite meal.  The feeling of coming in from pelting snow to a pot of simmering soup.  But imagine, if food wasn’t everything warm and secure. Imagine if food led you to a world with no bounderies and essentially no privacy. My debut review is about one such book.

Meet Rose, the main character in The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.  At the tender age of 9, Rose takes a bite of her would-be birthday cake and tastes hallowness and unhappines. Rose has just discovered that she can taste the emotions of the person who has prepared her plate.  Little Rose is facing human emotions far more mature then her age.  She’s accountable for her empathy towards her mother (and others), she’s holding down secrets that to heavy to hide and perhaps the most burdensome of all emotions,vulnerability.  She’s fussing with her own inability to communicate.

Lack of communication may well be Rose’s dillemma but author Aimee Bender has mastered communicating.  While reading this book, you can’t help but admire her brilliance.  I thought the prose in the book was like nothing I’ve read before; sometimes even cruel. Bender is capable of forming a quiet hysteria and anxiety just as quickly as she can tickle humor by symolizing roast beef as a hot steamy affair.  I’ll never look at my beef the same again.  The author is very sharp and seemlessly brings the reader out of comfort zones. The topic of conversation may always be common food; but the challenges are magical (Rose isn’t the only one who has powers, a certain family member can metaphorically and physically become invisible) and abstract. She successfully uses  food as an assimulation for life.  Always the certainty of food is carrying an underlying insecurity of what the next bite will taste like. Always the stability of family is being challanged by its fragility.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. I raised and eyebrow or two while reading but once it was completed and digested (HA!) I appreciated it even more. The only small quip I have with the author is that I felt the story is unfinished.  I wish she’d given me more closure, especially with the brother’s character.

On a scale of 1> Loved 2>Enjoyed  3>Dutifully finished 4>Nope didn’t happen  I rate this book

2> Enjoyed

Happy reading! Stayed tuned for the matching recipe.

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