12/30 Book Review: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
Aimee Bender
Fiction/Fantasy?/Magical Realism


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.

Tastes of Sadness

This book was an impulse buy, a cheap discovery at a used book store. The premise was fascinating and I desperately wanted to like it. But I just couldn’t.

The magical elements were interesting, but entirely overshadowed by the perpetual discontent of an average white girl growing up in average suburbs with an average family. And I can do without any more of that in my life.

I did appreciate the increasing understanding of her family (not as dull as they initially seem), but it wasn’t enough to redeem the book for me.

You might like it if…

You love magical realism and/or the crushing disillusionment of white suburbia.

4 thoughts on “12/30 Book Review: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

    • Hey, if you thought it sounded interesting, you’ll probably like it! I just felt it was lacking something vital. But that’s the awesome thing about reading–everyone feels differently about books!

  1. I think I’ve heard about this one. It sounds pretty intersting. Although I wonder how you’d figure out you’re sensing someone else’s emotions and not your own..?
    Although it is a good mechanism to explore and show feelings.
    But I have my troubles with magical realism, usually D: in reality, I’m such a magical realism person (things happen to me xD), but in books it’s almost always so cringe-worthy :/

  2. Pingback: June 2017 Reading Recap | Lyse of Llyr

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