Nancy's Reviews > The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
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Mar 10, 2011

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Read in March, 2011

Sometimes I really, really want to like a book. I really wanted to love "The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake," because the lovely Sherry H so kindly sent it to me. Thanks, Sherry! That was so nice of you!

My initial resistance to this novel was that I thought it would be too twee, too frothily chick-littish, and it was neither of those things. Bender is an eloquent writer with a gift for stripping her characters down to their quivering nerve-ends. Unfortunately for me, though, this novel falls solidly into the genre of magical realism, and I just couldn't buy in to the magical central concept. The narrator, Rose, discovers at the tender age of nine that the food she eats tastes of the emotional state of the people who prepared it...and of the factories, transport, and farmers that produce it. This is made truly frightful by the distraught state her mother is always in; Rose's mother Lane feels depressed, worthless, and empty most of the time, and little Rose literally cannot stomach this barren emotional diet.

I think I could have been down with the book if Bender had limited the magic to Rose and her eating disorder; I liked how she didn't flinch from the extreme unpleasantness that ensued, and I liked the concept as a metaphor for the way that children must endure the pain of their parents' wounds. But as the book proceeds, Rose discovers that other family members have "special talents," and I found these absurd...especially her brother's "talent," which made me giggle. And since giggling was NOT the aimed-at reaction, I think I will say: "Lemon Cake" got it only about half right for me; maybe I will like a future book by Bender better.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Racine (new) - added it

Racine Zackula Right with you from the quivering nerve ends to the giggling was NOT the intended reaction!

Nancy *grins* Thanks, Racine! It's nice to know my reaction wasn't too off-base.

Christy This review is where I was heading with mine. I liked it and did not like it. But my distaste for it by the end made it difficult for me to even write what I liked about it. I really appreciated nine-year old Rose addmitting that the emotions were too heavy for a child and it made it such a sad story in a good way. After that...downhill!

Nancy Do you feel any inclination to read her future books? Because I think I liked her writing enough to try it again. But only once.

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