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Home » Aimee Bender, Authors, Doll Chrissy, Reviewers, Reviews

Review: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

Submitted by on May 22, 2012 – 4:00 am3 Comments

Author: Aimee Bender
Tittle: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
Release: June 1st 2010
Series: Novel
Reviewer: Chrissy
Source: Personal Library
Purchase: | Book Depository

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.

Any book that has food in the title tends to catch my eye almost immediately. A large slice of yellow cake coated in chocolate icing and topped with a single birthday candle graced the cover of this book and seemed to call to me from afar. But the title, strange as it may be, was ultimately what caused me to take it home from the library—The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. After reading the book synopsis, I couldn’t wait to take this novel home and get started on reading. But there is more than meets the eye when it comes to The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.

On her ninth birthday, Rose Edelstein obtains a very unique ability—she is able to taste the emotions of the person who prepares her food. It begins with her mother’s lemon cake with chocolate icing, a cake that leaves Rose feeling empty and sad. Her brother thinks that she is crazy and his best friend continues to help her experiment with taste testing sessions throughout the restaurants in greater Los Angeles.

Over time she grows and her ability grows with her, becoming part of her until she decides that she will only eat food from vending machines and prepackaged meals. Her senses are so heightened that she is able to break down the ingredients into the regions that they came from. Forced to endure the speculation of her brother, her unrequited love for his best friend, her mother’s life outside of their home, and her father’s distant demeanor, Rose must harness her abilities while keeping the secrets that every bite of food reveals to her.

While there are many intriguing aspects of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, I found it to be an unsatisfying read as a whole. There were several aspects of this novel that were quite enjoyable (the humor, the setting, Rose’s point of view, and the quirkiness of the plot) but as a whole it left me feeling like the lemon chocolate cake that Rose’s mother made—unfulfilled. Of all the characters I found Rose to be the only likeable one. The language and grammar utilized by the author makes this book a little difficult to read, it simply does not have a steady flow that keeps you turning page after page. The concept of the book was brilliant, but the execution left much to be desired. Three quarters of the way through the book the storyline takes an unexpected turn and veers into the truly bizarre and unexplained. The book ends with many unresolved issues and unanswered questions which, again, leaves the reader feeling unfulfilled and, in a way, cheated.

Chrissy fell in love with books at an early age. It all started with Judi Barrett’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. At the tender age of five she decided that she wanted to be a writer. Later, she graduated to books like A Wrinkle in Time, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and the Goosebumps series, participating avidly in her school’s Book It program. High school brought on new challenges and loves. She began writing for the school’s newspaper and literary magazine. The works of Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, and Shirley Jackson quickly overran her bookshelves. But when Chrissy was introduced to the world of Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance, a grand love affair was set in motion. She is an avid reader of romance, urban fantasy, horror, erotica, and cozy mysteries. After working for the city library for six years and being surrounded by the works of greatly admired authors, she decided to devote her life to writing full time and hasn’t looked back since. When she is not devouring book after book, Chrissy loves to cook, bake, volunteer at the local animal shelter, and feed her addiction for horror movies. She lives in Maryland with her family and beloved pets.
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  • says:

    I too like the cover and the blurb, but now I will certainly not read this. I don’t like getting left behind with questions, and having to buy the next book to get the answers.

    Reply to this comment »
    • Doll Chrissy says:

      Thank you for your comment Aurian =) I’m really glad that I could save a fellow reader from suffering the disappointment that I felt at the end of this novel. As stated in my review, this is one of the most bizarre books that I’ve ever read and with everything that went unanswered I felt cheated upon its completion.

      Reply to this comment »
  • What a truly random book! The cover doesn’t seem to match it’s description does it? It’s all light and fluffy while it’s heroine has to suffer through an overdose of emotion through food. I would have never guessed nor would I ever thought to pick it up. Thanks for your review Chrissy, I think I’ll continue to skip this one.

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