Friday, September 10, 2010

Book Review: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

By request, I’m posting my thoughts about Aimee Bender’s newest magical realm novel, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. Bender, author of ‘Girl with the Flammable Skirt’ and ‘Willful Creatures’ is known for her ability to intertwine dark, sad themes with a light, airy blend of magic. Lemon Cake is no exception.

At the age of nine Rose discovers her ability to taste the preparer’s feeling in all food. Suddenly homemade meals are speaking to her and what they have to say is less than inviting. From the ability to taste anger, sadness, depression, and discontentment in first her mother’s home cooking and later in a variety of foods prepared in her cafeteria at school and in restaurants, Rose is overwhelmed by others emotions with every bite. At nine, she finds herself trying to carry the weight of others feelings as she fights against her strange ‘gift’.

This book is not for the grammar nazi – as there is not one single quotation mark in Bender’s novel. The format of her writing may be distracting to those who are ‘picky’ about writing rules. She breaks the rules and draws your attention only to the storyline. While not my format of choice I appreciate the desire to ‘just write’. She crafts her descriptions with eloquence and displays emotion on a wide scale with fluidity.

Dark and depressing but carefully crafted, the Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is a novel unlike any I’ve read this year. I find that even having finished the book I’m left with an unsettled feeling. What just happened? I neither loved nor hated it and hesitate to recommend it or caution against it as a result. While I don’t wish I hadn’t read it, I wouldn’t say that I enjoyed it either.


Note: I find that I am recently very turned off to the Oprah bookclub reads. This may be my last of hers for a while.

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