Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender


On her ninth birthday, Rose develops an interesting ability. She tastes her mom's lemon chocolate cake and rather than tasting the flavours of the cake, she tastes her mom's emotions. Her mom seems happy but her cooking tells a different story. She tastes sadness and desperation. Rose tries to tell people about this and though her brother's friend believes her, it becomes too much of a hassle to explain to anyone else. Soon Rose is tasting her mother's affair in her cooking and Rose tries only to eat factory-produced food. As Rose grows up, her brother starts displaying some abnormal behaviours as well. He will disappear for moments and then re-appear as if nothing has happened.

Rose learns to live with her ability. She even learns how to distinguish different states and factories from what she tastes. Though she never really seems to put her ability to much use. A friend asks her to taste her cooking to tell her emotions but it never really goes beyond this. Perhaps though, it would be too much for a person to consistently use this ability in their day-to-day life.

This book is quite different from the books I've read this year. It was a bit slow at times and I felt like more could have been done but I enjoyed it. Rose was a rather insightful character, despite being so young, and did a fantastic job of explaining her ability and how she lived with it. The story line with her brother was pushing it a bit but overall still a good book.

First Line: "It happened for the first time on a Tuesday afternoon, a warm spring day in the flatlands near Hollywod, a light breeze moving east from the ocean and stirring the black-eyed pansy petals newly pained in our flower boxes."


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