Monday, April 25, 2011
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
“On the Eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents’ attention, bites into her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift; she can taste her mother’s emotions in the slice.
She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother-her cheerful, good-with-crafts, can-do mother-tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes a peril and a threat to Rose. Anything may be revealed at any meal. She cannot eat her brother Joseph’s toast; a cookie at the local bakery is laced with rage; grape jelly is packed with acidic resentment.
Rose’s gift forces her to confront the secret knowledge all families keep hidden-truths about her mother’s life outside the home, her father’s strange detachment, Joseph’s clash with the world.
Yet, as Rose grows up, she realizes there are some secrets that even her taste buds cannot discern.”
Can you imagine biting into a piece of food and being able not only to taste and feel the person’s emotions who made the food, but being able to trace the origins of the ingredients back to “the happy cows from California” so to speak.
To go through life as Rose does, censoring each morsel before she allows it to pass her lips is non-comprehendible. Yet, that is what Rose does; she must make the decision to eat or not eat, to be afraid of what the food will reveal to her and can she live with the consequences of that knowledge? Secrets of the makers of the food foisted upon her that she must guard because no one knows of her “gift” or “curse.”
She learns eventually that she and her brother have both inherited strange gifts from their father. He has kept his own gift a secret; and, in doing so, Rose and her brother were never able to have a close relationship with him. Rose’s mother has her own secret life that Rose discerns through her mother’s cooking. Rose is sworn to secrecy when her mother realizes that she knows her secret.
It is a book with strange twists and turns that leaves you guessing and to say anymore about the book would be giving the mystery away.It is funny at times, and sad at other times. It is about the heartbreak that you experience when you love someone and then must keep their secrets. It is a book about the strangeness of our everyday lives.
I will give you a teaser: watch out for the brother and remember the chair. You will just have to read the book and come back and leave a comment about your thoughts.
It is definitely a book worth reading and I recommend you add it to your short list. You may purchase the book from Amazon.com by clicking on the icon below. The author's website is intriguing as well. She can be found at www.aimeebender.com