Monday, November 8, 2010

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender was recommended on one of the book boards I read. Naturally, when I saw multiple copies on the Express shelf, I snapped one up to read despite having any idea of the plot. I’ve found that I don’t necessarily care about plots when choosing what to read next anymore. If it comes recommended, I’ll give anything a shot. It usually pays off in the end.

This story begins with Rose Edelstein as a 9 year old girl living in California. One day, she realizes as she’s eating a lemon cake her mother baked for her birthday, that she can taste the emotion within the cake. She tastes sadness and loneliness that has come from her mother. Disconcerting as this is, Rose embarks on a journey to find the source of her strange affliction. It's not isolated to her mother, however. Whoever made the food she eats is who she can taste the emotion from. Eventually, because she can’t stand eating the way her mother feels, she seeks out processed foods from vending machines as tasting factory is better than tasting sorrow. Rose’s older brother Joseph finds her annoying but his friend, George, tries to help her with her problem. As the book goes on, Rose grows up and deals with these edible emotions as best she can. Her family is not without problems and they play out on her plate nightly. A twist near the end pulls everything together in kind of a “whoa” moment.

I enjoyed this one. While somewhat fantastical, it provided a nice departure from some of my other recent reads. Bender’s descriptive writing is dead on and really helped bring out the characters and feelings throughout. If you’re looking for something slightly sad, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is worth reading. Or, even if you’re not looking for something sad, though be warned, Rose is full of heartbreak.

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