February 23, 2011

Book Review: The Particularly Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

lemon cake
At First Sight:  On the eve of her 9th birthday, Rose arrived home from school to a lemon-chocolate cake that her mother had baked in practice for Rose's birthday party the next day, and with a bite of that cake, her whole life changed. She discovered she could taste her mother's emotions in the cake, and what she tasted was despair and sadness. From then on, she had to learn to live with the knowledge she gains with each bite about the person who prepared the food.

She tastes her mother's mood shifts, and her father's detachment, and her older brother's clash with the world. As she grows up, she can go back even further back, to the ingredients and the people who process the food. 

This is a knowledge that costs her her innocence and, at times her sanity.

Second Glance: I don't know what I expected from this book, but it wasn't anything I got. I had a few problems with it from the outset, mainly because I was listening to the audio book rather than reading it, and they had the author read the story and, as a result, the narrative was very flat - there was no change in the voices or emotions through out.

And, also, the book goes on and on, stretching for over 10 years, and there is no clear conclusion. I liked Rose at first but I felt little change in her, even with all the years that pass. And, though I felt some compassion for her brother, he was very hard to connect to, just as Rose is after a while. 

Bottom Line: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake has an interesting premise, but it sort goes no where and it's not really enjoyable either.

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