The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake By Aimee Bender

December 16, 2010 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy


***Please note that this is a secular title…
The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

I saw this book mentioned via the Goodreads.com newsletter a few weeks back. I was so intrigued by the description that I ordered this title. I found it intriguing because of the food aspect. I love writing about food in my own work and some readers have told me that they get hungry when they read my novels! 🙂

Rose is celebrating her ninth birthday, and her mother bakes her a lemon cake. This cake drastically changes her life. She can taste her mother’s despondent mood in the cake. Soon, Rose finds her life spinning out of control, because when she tastes food, she tastes the emotions of the people who have prepared the foods. As you can imagine, a lot of people experience sadness and negative emotions and Rose can taste these feelings in her meals, and she finds herself not wanting to eat people’s food because the food tastes bad. She can also taste other things in the food, like, the country/state where the vegetables were grown. She can taste place the butter was manufactured. She can even taste the factories where the food was produced.

Rose does learn to deal with her “problem” by getting food from vending machines. These types of foods, made in factories, don’t encompass such an awful taste. When she does stumble upon prepared food that she enjoys, she clings to that source, wanting food from that person since it’s a rarity for her to find food that tastes good.

This book also delves into the complexities of familial relationships. Rose can knows what illicit activities her mother engages in through her food. Rose also has a hard-to-define relationship with her troubled older brother, Joe.

The book spans through several years – starting when Rose is nine and ending when Rose is in her early twenties. Her brother Joe has a best friend named George, and when Rose first discovers her food “gift” George is the only person who takes her claims seriously, and tries to get to the root of Rose’s food “problem.” Her infatuation with George increases over time since he pays more attention to her than Joe does.

I consider this book to be a literary work of fiction and, I’ll admit, I was a bit lost at the end. But I can’t tell how I felt lost without giving away a major spoiler. So, if you’ve read this book, could you email me or leave a comment so that we can discuss it? Also, I’d like for you to leave a comment about your thoughts concerning the description of this title.

~Cecelia Dowdy~
From the cover:
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.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is a luminous tale about the enormous difficulty of loving someone fully when you know too much about them. It is heartbreaking and funny, wise and sad, and confirms Aimee Bender’s place as “a writer who makes you grateful for the very existence of language” (San Francisco Chronicle).

5 Responses to The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake By Aimee Bender

  1. Tea says:

    I would love to read this one, Cecilia. Glad you liked it.

  2. Hi, Tea

    Yes, it was a good, but unusual book, and I was kind of confused at the end. I still don’t quite understand what the brother, Joseph’s, “problem/gift” was – he would disappear occasionally, and nobody could find him, sometimes for days. At the end, he explains these disappearences, but I was still lost.

  3. Rebecca Lynn says:

    This book has been on my TBR list since you told me about it. I definitely want to read this!

  4. Rebecca, I hope you enjoy the book! Be sure to leave a comment once you’re finished so that the rest of us know what you thought about the story! 🙂

  5. Fartboxen says:

    Hello book. Many are read you for book time. Like if you read to me. My favorite pages is one with picture. Let’s eat coffee and talk book.

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