The wondrous Aimee Bender conjures the lush and moving story of a girl whose magical gift is really a devastating curse.
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).
BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Aimee Bender's The Color Master.
Taking her very personal brand of pessimistic magical realism to new heights (or depths), Bender's second novel (following An Invisible Sign of My Own) careens splendidly through an obstacle course of pathological, fantastical neuroses. Bender's narrator is young, needy Rose Edelstein, who can literally taste the emotions of whoever prepares her food, giving her unwanted insight into other people's secret emotional lives including her mother's, whose lemon cake betrays a deep dissatisfaction. Rose's father and brother also possess odd gifts, the implications of which Bender explores with a loving and detailed eye while following Rose from third grade through adulthood. Bender has been called a fabulist, but emerges as more a spelunker of the human soul; carefully burrowing through her characters' layered disorders and abilities, Bender plumbs an emotionally crippled family with power and authenticity. Though Rose's gift can seem superfluous at times, and Bender's gustative insights don't have the sensual potency readers might crave, this coming-of-age story makes a bittersweet dish, brimming with a zesty, beguiling talent.
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The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
An unexpected adventure. Creatively written with twists and turns you most likely won't see coming.
Interesting characters and creative traits they possess. A family story you will long remember.
Off beat but so amazing
I picked up this book thinking it would have a little magic in it, and that was enough for me. But as I began reading I realized just how different this book was. It's definitely a coming of age story but it was so much more than that. This is a book I will never forget because the characters became so real and the story was so touching. Some may find it too weird, but when you see how beautifully this book is written and how real these characters reactions are, the strange new ideas become relatable. We've all felt loss, loneliness, and we've all had strange parental moments. This book encompasses all that with a dash of supernatural. I adore this book and give it to anyone who will take it. Thank you, Aimee Bender.