Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Lemon” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.79  ·  Rating details ·  189 ratings  ·  31 reviews
Longlisted for the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize!
Shortlisted for the 2010 Trillium Book Award!

Lemon has three mothers: a biological one she’s never met, her adopted father’s suicidal ex, and Drew, a school principal who hasn’t left the house since she was stabbed by a student. She has one deadbeat dad, one young cancer-riddled protégé, and two friends, the school tramp and
Paperback, 260 pages
Published October 14th 2005 by Coach House Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Lemon, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Lemon

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  189 ratings  ·  31 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Lemon
Lolly K Dandeneau
Nov 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
I would have given a full 5 stars if not for the end of the novel, which wasn't bad I just wanted a little more from it. I understand people felt she was too mature and read more like an adult than a teenager. I have mixed emotions there. Some felt the terrible things that happened to her were too many and therefore ridiculous but that isn't so. There are real people (young, old and in between) that tragedy seems to nest in. Lucky are those of us that tragedy only visits once, or not at all. I d ...more
Pam Bustin
Lemon will break your heart.
I love this girl.
I KNOW this girl.

Heard an interview with Cordelia Strube on CBC radio and ran to my techno-gizmo to put a hold on the ebook at the library.

Glad I did!

I hereby declare LEMON the first book of my 2013 Feminist Reads Challenge - hosted by Sara over at The Hiding Spot .

Lemon is a wise-cracking, snarky smart girl who is incredibly lonely. As with most smart-arsed teenagers, she took a while to grow on me.

As I began to read the book, it felt like she was
Jan 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I didn't want to put it down. I didn't want it to end. ...more
Tart and zesty, Cordelia Strubes Lemon offers an unusual coming of age story. Limone, aka Lemon, our 16 year old heroine has observed the chaos and the hypocrisy firsthand. "Personally, " she observes, "I think telling the truth is overrated." p18

"Weapons aren't the issue. Sick minds is" p34 she concludes.
"All that killing over religion makes no sense. I guess the point is, it wasnt about religion but control...." p47 "You're expected to live in a virtual world, to lose yourself in technology an
May 05, 2010 rated it did not like it
I just could not buy this, the main character did not ring true to me and the other characters were cardboard. Many scenes felt very repetitive. There was a grain of a good character development in Lemon, but she would have been more credible, with her musings and knowledge of literature, as a woman, rather than a teen-aged girl-outcast.
May 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
Very well written, but this book is a real downer; Lemon's life just goes from bad to worse. I found it hard to read. ...more
Oct 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
(view spoiler) ...more
Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
if someone put a gun to my head and said, write a freudian analysis for any book of your choosing, i’d pick this novel for no reason other than it would be full of such content that i won’t lack for evidence to analyze. and since i’m such a sucker for psychoanalysis, and since this book is just rife with such and such issues, not to mention it’s not slow, not hesitant in its ending, it’s a match made in heaven.
Jun 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Sad story about a young girl, that no one really cares for. She puts up blocks to cover up her worries..
Jul 21, 2011 rated it liked it
‘Why should you care?’ I ask.

‘Unlike you, Lemon, I like to meet guys.’

‘Do you actually want their dicks up in your snatch, Ross?’ I ask. ‘Do you get some kind of power surge when they grab your tits or do you just want to be loved?’

‘You should talk. Everybody says you’re a dyke.’

‘That’ll keep ‘em off me.’

We used to talk about other things than sex and guys. We used to have confidence. We spun cartwheels and handstands. We got A’s in math.

‘Lemon’s saving herself for the ghost of Cary Grant,’ Tora
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Lemon wins my unofficial award for Most Surprising Turnaround. At first I was outraged that I had bothered to pick it up, as I was greeted by yet another angsty and cynical adolescent voice that reminded me of that whiny asshole in Catcher in the Rye, which I thought was overrated and annoying. But after the first 75 pages I could see Lemon had distinct value, and that this whiny adolescent really did have something important to express. I warmed to her voice quickly after my initial judgment of ...more
Miz Moffatt
Nov 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
Lemon pits one girl against a world of unreliable parents, irreparable environmental damage, children suffering from cancer, and a collection of deadbeat, hopeless high school peers bent on making her life a spiraling vortex to hell. Our heroine, Lemon, is a rootless wonder -- her time is divided between her adopted father's suicidal ex, brief glimpses of the biological mother who Lemon has never met, and Drew, a school principal afraid to leave her house after she was stabbed by a student. At s ...more
Jun 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own, canadian
Lemon is the kind of book that punches you in the gut and rips your heart out simultaneously. In a good way. Yes, that is possible.

I didn’t really know what to expect when I started reading Lemon, my first foray into Cordelia Strube’s oeuvre, even though Lemon is her eighth novel. The plot seemed like one I’d read before, yet it intrigued me nonetheless: misfit teenage girl with the odds stacked against her attempts to get out of high school in one piece. But upon reading the first few chapters,
Sep 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giller-nominee
When I started to read Lemon and was about 80 pages into the text, I represented the protagonist as a female, twenty-first century Holden Caulfield. Lemon is stuck in teenage-land with a set of unruly and imbalanced parents and some very messed up peers and teachers. As she navigates life, from her home where her agoraphobic stepmother mopes around, to her shitty job at the mall, to hang out with her popularity-obsessed BFF, to the sick kids hospital where she volunteers, Lemon glides through li ...more
Apr 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Lemon was a delightful surprise. I was so sorry to finish it. Cordelia Strube has created a heartbreakingly, achingly, charming story about the angst of adolescence, and beyond. For all of you who don't take life and the cultural norms at face value, especially for the many who had less than a stellar start in life, you will enjoy and appreciate Lemon. Of course, being a fellow Canadian and Torontonian only added to my enjoyment of this novel.

I only have one criticism for this novel, and that is
Andrea MacPherson
May 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Cordelia Strube excels at writing quirky, relatable characters. A girl named Lemon with three mothers, who likes reading about tragedies throughout history? In a less accomplished author's hands, this would be melodramatic, a heavy-handed device. But somehow Strube makes it sing. Her characters are all fully realized, authentic. Her teen characters are especially well-drawn.

The novel explores Lemon's often sad, often strange life. Her adopted mother has had a breakdown, and Lemon now lives with
Sep 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
An excellent coming of age story of a 16 year old girl with 3 mothers (birth, adoptive & the one who brought her up) and a fairly useless father. The author writes really well about the mindset of a 16 year old and her high school struggles to get a grip on who she is and what she wants. It is a very good read and I couldn't put it down. ...more
Jan 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
I feel like I want to say something about Holden Caulfied but later on I realised that wasn't it. Yes there are similarities but only because they both play the same role--alienated, displaced, troubled, dissatisfied, and lost...Lemon typifies the modern woman in the twenty-first century just as Holden became the embodiment of the modern zeitgeist. We can never outgrow adolescence. The twenty-first century is civilisation in its adolescent stage with all of its unfulfilled longings and anxieties ...more
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: escape-reading
If there were an option to hand out half-stars, I would have given this book 2+1/2 stars. I really liked the opening, and was intrigued by why the main character was so insular. But as the story progressed, with more and more outrageous things happening and then no real resolution at all for what I considered to be the main outrageous event, I got the impression that Strube didn't quite know how to finish the book. ...more
Carrie Marcotte
Disturbing at times & draining. But the author captures the emotional upheaval of being lost & being different in a time of life when conformity is a survival mechanism. I would file this novel as a YA novel, from what I read in the first half, but I'm not sure it would fit there after reading the last half of the novel. Maybe on the cusp. The last couple of chapters makes up for the YA feeling I got from the first half of the book, where the character Lemon is at her most unstable. If it was a ...more
Jun 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
A sharp, clear-eyed view of the atrocities of adolescence (and the world itself) from one outsider by choice. Though the book is darker than I expected, and contained one of the more distressing scenes I've ever read, Lemon's dry humour and relentless intelligence make the content completely digestible. Strube is completely tuned in to the modern teen world, one dramatically different from the one I remember just a decade ago. ...more
Stark Daley
Aug 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
This may arguably be Strube's best book yet. While she still has the dark humour and compelling angst of earlier books, at least this time, like Pandora's jar, she left us with hope -- unlike the bleak emotional nihilism of earlier works, like The Barking Dog.

The title character is unforgettable, and takes you on a poignant, moving journey of self-discovery that typifies the struggles of today's teens. A brilliant work and a fabulous read.
Jennifer Whiteford
Dec 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
Loved this, read it in one sitting. Lemon, the narrator, is so compelling. Smart and interesting and flawed. The tragedies she experiences are horrifying but believable. It ends hopefully but not unrealistically. Broken people are still broken. Great writing. I'd like to read more of Strube's books. ...more
Brittany M.
A searing YA novel centering less on the hope of survival than on the pure, cold fact of it. Strube includes grisly but necessary discussions of rape and sexual assault as well as frank portrayals of terminal illness and death. Lemon leaves a tiny weight on the chest, left me pawing through the last few pages long after my lunch break ended.
Sep 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
i loved this book. really gets into the mind of a teen age girl. such a horrid world view & then it comes true. i felt so badly for Limone. her voice is so strong that even after i finished the book, i can still hear her.
Jan 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
FINALLY a book about a smart lower class girl. I related a lot to Lemon, the main character.
Hmm...might write more but i cba TBH
Kingston WritersFest
May 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kwf-2010
Cordelia Strube joined us at Kingston WritersFest 2010. You can read more about Cordelia and the Festival here: ...more
Julie Aquilina
Dec 02, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya
This was a dark one to read at holiday time, but a very well written first person narrative overall.
Chantal Saville
Jun 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
a female Holden Caufield for the 21st. century
topics  posts  views  last activity   
ELEVEN READERS CL...: "Lemon" Rationale 1 9 Mar 09, 2012 09:45PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Lighter than My Shadow
  • The Topeka School
  • A God in Ruins (Todd Family, #2)
  • Murder by Impulse
  • Quiet Dell
  • The Consuming Fire (The Interdependency, #2)
  • The Collapsing Empire (The Interdependency, #1)
  • Lost Children Archive
  • 10:04
  • The Robber Bride
  • All My Puny Sorrows
  • Stone Mattress: Nine Tales
  • Debt of Bones (Sword of Truth, #0.5)
  • Warriors Boxed Set (Warriors, #1-3)
  • The Lost Man
  • Rules of Civility
See similar books…
Read an interview and an excerpt of Cordelia's new novel, On the Shores of Darkness, There Is Light, in Numéro Cinq Magazine:

Watch a video of Cordelia interacting with students at York University's Canadian Writers in Person here:

Cordelia Strube is an accomplished playwright and the author of nine critically acclaimed novels, including Alex & Zee,

Related Articles

  Here at Goodreads, we've noticed that a funny thing tends to happen when we start talking about audiobooks: The same few titles get...
66 likes · 16 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
Sorry is one of those meaningless words people toss around before they kick you in the head again. 0 likes
More quotes…