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The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: 07/11/13

cover art

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender is an exploration of the emotions captured in food. Although Bender specializes in placing the extraordinary in ordinary settings, there's still a recognizable truth to what Rose Edelstein experiences.

Just before her 9th birthday, as Rose and her mother are baking a chocolate frosted lemon cake, she realizes the cake she and her mother have made countless times doesn't taste right. It's not that the recipe is different or that the ingredients are off. No — there's a crushing sadness to it.

From then on, Rose can taste the stories behind every meal she eats. It's not just emotions, but also the foods' origins. She learns a new geography based on the things her meals tell her. In order to keep her sanity in all this on rush of information and raw emotion, Rose must learn how and what to eat.

The book follows Rose through her teenage years into early adulthood. She grows into her special ability and finds herself in the process. Along the way she learns she is not alone in having powers — her brother and her father.

As with Bender's short stories, Rose's narration is told with detachment. It's not that she doesn't care — it's just that she is looking back on her life through the new normal. The events of her life, while extraordinary are just part of who she is.

Although the first couple of chapters took some getting used to, I loved watching Rose grow. I recommend reading Bender's book in conjunction with the memoir: A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg.

Five stars

Comments (2)

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Comment #1: Friday, July 12, 2013 at 21:09:50

Freda Mans

This is a book I rather enjoyed too. I think I gave it 4 stars.
Fab review.

Comment #2: Sunday, August 04, 2013 at 15:38:10


Thank you. I'd like to read more of her work.

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