I picked up the book because of the title The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. Of course, lemon cake is tart and that could be a bit sad, but no, that is not what the book was about. The cover told me that 9-year-old Rose can taste the sadness in the cake when her mother bakes it.
The book sounded similar to Like Water For Chocolate, which is one of my favorite books, so I brought it home, uncertain if I would hate it because it tried to imitate Like Water for Chocolate or love it for its similarities.
The similarities did not continue.
Like a present from a fairy godmother gone awry, the little girl can taste the emotions of everyone involved in the food-making process. She isn't attuned only to her mother, but to the farmer who drove the lemons to market, and the cows that gave the milk. She tries to confide in adults but you can imagine how that goes over. She takes to eating mechanically prepared foods -- twinkies and honeybuns.
The story really though is more about the emotions she discovers in her family. She can taste the guilt when her mother begins an affair. She watches as her brother begins to disappear -- literally.
Near the end of the book while talking with her father, she discovers that her grandfather could smell emotions. Where was the father all this time that the little girl claimed she could taste emotions?
In spite of, or because of, the mystical qualities of the book, it's a good read filled with the emotions of coping in a family.
Photo from Amazon, where you can look inside the book.
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