The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is well written fantasy with its basis in realism. The story explores the life of a young girl and her seemingly typical family, as well as, her unique ability to taste the feelings of the chef in the food she eats. This discovery leads to complex revelations about her family and the world. I found the first three-fourths of the book to be very enjoyable, but the ending was very unsatisfactory, unbelievable, and diverted far from the original story line and premise. However, others have told me that they very much enjoyed all parts of the book.
Super fun premise if you are a fan of mystical realism. The concept of emotion-tasting contrasts the mundane suburban life of an ordinary, passably-functional family. It's sometimes a bit melancholy, which rings true to life for a first-person narrative of a coming-of-age tale of a girl who desires to earn favor & emotional connection w/ her socially awkward older brother. However, there a several different directions in the plot lines, and I had a little trouble envisioning some scenes - enough that I almost quit.
This book was not what I expected at all! I had very high expectations and the initial premise is very interesting, but it kind of lost me by the end.
Did not like this book it was rather weird to me. It is about a girl who eats certain food and then she can feel what other people feel or think. Her brother keep disappear I believe at the end her turned into a chair?
I enjoyed the novel idea of this book and was caught up in the character of Rose right away and her development throughout. I never really clearly understood what was going on with her brother and found this subplot was a bit distracting...and this also kept the ending from being satisfying.
Such an interesting read, with fulling developed characters. Does leave one wanting a bit more at the end though. Vaguely unsatisfying when finished!
The writing is amazing. The story was, for me, a mixed success. On the positive side, it was original and unexpected. Ultimately, I was left full of emotion, if also a little bit confused. But isn't evocative writing what writing is all about?
A strange and surprisingly moving novel built on an interesting concept.
A charming unusual book - completely unique. Psychic powers in the taste buds!
I liked the beginning especially the idea of tasting emotions in food. The plot did not hold my attention and was disappointed as the story evolved.
I really liked the beginning, but I didn't like the direction the story took. I thought the brother's role and place in the story was over the top and took away from the more interesting character that was Rose. I enjoyed the book but overall I was a little disappointed.
A very odd, very charming book. Don't read the book jacket, it tells far too much. I liked the ending, and thought there were not the loose ends another comment here complains about. The big question for me was the Grandmother, and what her presents mean. Once you get to the end of the book, you reinterpret everything ! Love the writing. Will read her other book and hope for more in future. IT reminded me of Nikolski, in its tone and quirkiness. If you liked this, read Nikolski.
"The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake" begins, unsurprisingly with a lemon cake. A few days before she turns nine, Rose Edelstein comes home from school to find that her mother has baked her a pre-birthday cake. Biting into a piece, Rose tastes "absence, hunger, spiraling, hollows." The cake contains a message her mother has unknowingly sent, a message Rose cannot digest. Rose now carries a dark secret; she has a new skill, a sad superpower. She can taste people's feelings in the food they make: anger in a cookie, adultery in roast beef. Slowly, she adapts. Whenever possible, she eats processed food and develops a love of vending machines. When forced to eat her mother's food, she distracts herself from the emotional ingredients by focusing on the material ones. Soon, she can identify potato farms and pasta factories, truck routes and tomato pickers. She can tell a California orange from a Florida orange in less than five seconds. She knows with certainty if a food is organic. Meanwhile, her family comes into an almost-focus; Rose's skill illuminates those around her just enough to make her feel all the more in the dark. Who are these people? A father, who has such an acute fear of hospitals that his first sight of his baby daughter is through binoculars from the sidewalk below. A relentlessly cheerful mother, who at her core harbours loss and loneliness. And a distant brother who spirals farther and farther away, perfecting a strange skill of his own. Aimee Bender's book displays a magical cooperation between dream and reality so seamless and persuasive that, upon finishing it, the reader feels utterly awake and unalone.
The premise is interesting, and you gotta love the title… It’s a worthy read, but I felt the author left way to many loose ends. I promise not to turn this into a spoiler by going into detail, but you never find out what happened to her brother Joseph; to me a far more complex & interesting person than the main character Rose. I’m convinced Aimee’s setting us up for a sequel, fine & dandy, but I felt a little let down when it ended rather abruptly & inconclusively
I don't usually enjoy magic realism or sci-fi, but I found myself quite willing to suspend belief in this story of a girl who discovers the she can taste emotions in food. Moving and thought-provoking.
Starts a bit slow but then really picks up. Enjoyable read.
Fascinating concept. Really enjoyed through to the end.
This book was okay. I loved the premise of someone being able to taste another person's emotions in the food (it made me think of like water for chocolate) but she was un able to do much with the story. I was left feeling like she had introduced all of these characters, but there wasn't much of a story line to it. I felt a little let down by the ending. Still, I enjoyed the descriptions of the emotions. Not bad.
The book started off interesting especially when Rose started feeling emotions through the food. After that though, it was a slow read. I expected to be captivated and feel like I couldn't put the book down but that wasn't what happened.
Okay. Started off a bit slow, though. I had to skip through a few pages because I was so bored...
"Jodi Picoult says of this book that the writing is so beautiful that ‘sometimes I have to stop and taste a sentence a second time’. I know exactly what she means – Aimee Bender’s pages are rich in texture and flavour, and her blend of food and emotion as the driving force of her story is little short of inspired." Richard and Judy Book Club Review
If there was a point to the book I missed it. I finished it to be polite to the author, but otherwise would have returned it to the library. Boo...
I had to read this for class, unfortunately. The worst book I've read in years. Seems suited more for children.
I enjoyed this book because of its creativity. It was an interesting and fun read; although, the ending felt rushed.
reviewed in the Stratford Gazette's Shelf Life column
I was very much looking forward to reading The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake but was sadly disappointed. I found this to be a bizarre, depressing story with absolutely no joy. I don’t expect all my books to have happy endings, but this was a slow dark ride that just seemed to just run out of gas and coast to a stop. The story of Rose a young girl who on her ninth birthday discovers she is cursed with the ability to taste feelings in the food she eats sounded intriguing. Instead I was treated to description after description of food that tasted gummy and thick or dry and chalky. The characters in this story are all strange, detached, and quite incomplete. From Rose herself to the rest of her emotionally unstable family, we are always just given small insights, never the bigger picture. So, her mother is sad and empty. Her father a dull blockhead. They both prefer to pretend a normalcy that doesn’t exist in this family. Rose’s brother Joseph who obviously is autistic, was again, I felt an incomplete character. I believe the author is capable of much, much more. There were glimmers of good, descriptive writing here and there, but on the whole I felt she lacked direction. From her deliberate mispunctuation one gathers the author was trying to be innovative, but again, for me this didn’t work. I also felt the author wasn’t definite about whose story she was telling. The book starts with the focus on Rose but halfway through attention switches to her strange brother. Neither character was developed fully. Perhaps it was me, but I finished the book feeling like I totally missed the whole point and I would recommend that this book gets a miss.
Charming, poignant and at times very amusing. One-of-a-kind.
This novel just didn't work for me. I loved the idea of it, but somewhere along the way - before the halfway point - I lost all interest. Bender took what could have been a fantastic, deep-thinking idea and turned it into a few hundred pages of boring. Really disappointing. I expected so much more.
This novel begins with a unique premise -- a girl who is able to taste the hidden emotions within food. It is a lyrical and insightful examination of the emotional undercurrents within a family, and the unintended impact family secrets can have on its members. A lot to examine in this book -- it's a good choice for a book group.
I enjoyed this book while I was reading it - the author really has a way with words and describing the little nuances of life. The last 50 pages or so felt rushed and it had a weird ending, though.
Waste of time. A really dissappointing book. It sounded promising but what a letdown! It was awful.
I really enjoyed this book. I loved the way she makes all of the characters so unique and so intriguing in one way or another. I found the ending just slightly disappointing (i.e.: it felt like it ended too suddenly) but, overall I really, really liked the story.
On the whole, I enjoyed this book and can say that it was very well written, beautiful at times when the author described the food that Rose was eating and the feelings that she was experiencing. However, I think that it's a book that some will love, some will hate, and some, like me, will sit on the fence about. I can't say that I would overtly recommend this to anyone, but also wouldn't go out of my way to dissuade a friend from reading it. My biggest complaint is that I really wish that the author had made use of quoatation marks. While it's a current style trend, I find it annoying and distracting while I'm reading and don't feel that it adds anything to the content or flow - actually, it detracts from it.
I liked this book. Books about dysfunctional families are everywhere but by adding an element of fantasy, the author was able to describe the characters' emotional states in a new, very real, and insightful way.
Very sad but riviting book. Humans...families....why do we/they have to be so complicated?
The first time that Rose Edelstein began tasting the emotions of other people in the food they prepared, she was 11 years old. Her strange ability was an affliction more than a talent; when Rose was twelve, she learned the taste of her mother having an extramarital affair. The Edelstein family encompassed another child with special talents: Rose's older brother, Joseph. Joseph was a math and science genius with a particular interest in particle physics. He was not at all interested in people. Rose suspected that he was disappearing entirely into the world of objects. Rose's father had such a fear of hospitals that he would not even go inside when his children were born. The Edelsteins are a quirky bunch, but somehow that doesn't overpower their story. The novel is about coping and about accepting life's challenges. It is gracefully told - as sweetly tart and satisfying as a slice of lemon cake.
A thought provoking novel about a young girl who discovers her unique ability to taste emotions in the food that others prepare. This is a quick read that attempts to suspend disbelief in such talents. Ultimately, it offers a strong case about how those who grow up in dysfunctional families develop an acute sense of the motives, pain and suffering of others.
Rose finds that she has a wonderful but strange gift - when she bites into a piece of food she can tell where it came from and what the person who prepared it was feeling. At first this is startling but also felt like an experiment. Could she tell the difference between an orange grown in California from one grown in Florida? But then it becomes more disturbing to her - she can tell what secrets people may have and her mother may be harboring a really big one!