The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake - Aimee Bender

The Particular Sadness of Lemon CakeThe Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a difficult book to review, possibly because it was completely different from how I expected it to be, which was a sweet, coming of age book. Instead it was about family, not living up to expectations, and how to live in a world you don’t feel suited to.

For her 9th birthday, Rose receives a gift that is more like a curse: the ability to taste what people feel through the food they’ve made. Through this gift Rose learns about her mother’s emptiness, her father’s detachment and her brother’s clash with the world.

In many parts the writing is vivid, you can see, smell and practically touch what the author describes. It was tender and poignant and utterly beautiful. But in some ways I felt the story wasn’t quite finished. As if it were the first draft of the novel. I wanted to know more about some of the storylines that were presented. What I did like were the powerful metaphors for mental illness, accepting yourself, and expectations: Joseph who (I’d guess) is on the spectrum and escapes reality and disappears using his gift and Rose who does engages with society and decides to celebrate rather than hide her gift.

While it does have a slow beginning, I did enjoy this quirky, unusual novel, although it left me with a strange, lingering sadness at the end.

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