Adriana's Reviews > The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
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Apr 12, 12

Read in April, 2012

This is a story about the life of a very unique family struggling to live with crippling abilities in modern day suburban middle class America. More specifically, it follows the life of Rose Edelstein, a girl who discovers she can taste the cook’s emotions in the food she eats.
I had a few problems with this book: two problems with Bender’s stylistic narrative choices, and one with her book as a whole. The first problem is that I am left confused and mildly annoyed by the way she phrases her sentences sometimes. On page 87 for instance: “Dad asked if he could accompany her, and she shrugged, in the way that most men at the time used as a doorway or lever”. Okay…what? I can sort of understand what she means by this, but stopping to decipher the meaning of her sentences every once in a while is distracting and does not do much to further the story. And this reading this statement within the context of the book does not do much to enlighten things, either. Then there is the problem of there being no quotes for dialogue. This makes it hard to distinguish the character’s thoughts from the things they say out loud, and interrupts the flow of the narrative again. If this is not a problem for you, or you believe, as I do, that it is worth tolerating, than this is definitely a book you should read.
Many things came to mind as I read this book, namely magical realism and suspension of disbelief, both of which Bender uses expertly throughout. However, this brings me to my third and final problem with this book: Bender stretches the suspension of your disbelief to a degree that is bordering on the ridiculous. There will be a moment in the novel that will cause you to pause and think: Really? This really just happened? REALLY?! And everything that came before seems to be leading up to this moment. Indeed, Bender uses this moment as a thesis of sorts, to try to convince you to buy it.
That being said, Bender’s way of weaving the plot like a gifted seamstress will either make or break this book for you. She tends to give us the outcome of an event, then goes back later and dissects crucial moments of it. And this creates the most direct physical weaving of words in a book that I have ever encountered. This book gives you a very creative spin on the mundane. It is a book filled with a haunting sadness. The longing in this book is palpable, a living thing. I approve of where and how the characters are left in at the end of the book. I cannot say that I like how it ends, because it is rather depressing, but also refreshing because it makes you think. This is the kind of story that stays with you, and stories like that are always worth reading.

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