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.
Pages: 293 (Hardcover)
Rating: 2 out of 10
Source: Checked out from the library
When I heard that The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender was picked as the book club selection for November, I was pretty excited. The premise of the book was interesting to me. I am on a book buying restriction while I am in DC, so I had to wait patiently (or rather obsessively) for my turn on the library wait list. After I finished the book, I felt so thankful that I could return the book to the library instead of having it take up space on my shelves. I REALLY wanted to like the book and I felt so excited when I first started the book.
As the story unfolded, I realized a few things which indicated that the book was going to disappoint. First, a lot of the pages were spent on the character development of Rose's (the narrator) mother and her brother. With such a cool talent, I thought that she would become a more exciting character. Second, Rose "deals" with her gift by eating food out of vending machines and feeling thankful when she can eat things that are created by machines. I am trying to eat better which, for me, includes fewer foods that come from factories. I was really disappointed that Rose's coping mechanism was so weak; I kept waiting for her to do something cool and interesting with her talent.
Towards the end of the book, the last twenty pages, Rose began to make some thoughtful choices. I finally cared about what she was doing and how she was utilizing her skill in an interesting manner. During the discussion, someone said that they wished we got to read more of the story that was uncovered at the end. I agree with that to a certain point. I wish that the book had been organized differently, so that we could spend more time with Rose as an adult navigating the world with her talent instead of Rose as a child trying to figure out what the heck was up with her mom and brother.
I am counting the book for the following challenges:
Everything Austen Two: The main character, Rose, reminds me of Emma. She is curious about the world around her and concerned with helping others while not developing much herself.
What's in a Name Three: The book has lemon in the title which is a tree that is part of the plant family. Therefore, this is my selection for the plant category.