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, can-do mother - tastes of despair and
desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes
perilous. Anything can be revealed at any meal. 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 and her brother's clash with the world. Yet as
Rose grows up, she realises there are some secrets that even her
taste buds cannot discern. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is
a luminous tale about the heartbreak of loving those whom you know
too much about. It is profound and funny, wise and sad, and Aimee
Bender's dazzling prose illuminates the strangeness of everyday
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Review This Product
Sun, 17 Jul 2011 | Review by: Amanda P
Rose Edelstein's life changes when she eats the cake her mother bakes for her on her 9th birthday. She inexplicably tastes every emotion her mother has. And it's not a good thing. Her beautiful mother tastes empty and small, and full of despair. Food becomes a battleground for the terrified child. She cannot explain what is happening to her.
Her brother, Joseph, is her mother's gift, her ‘guide’. But Joseph is a loner, trapped in an interior world, unable to interact with others. Her father is the perfect provider. He leaves for work and returns like clockwork. His only quirk seems to be a morbid fear of hospitals. Her parents are polar opposites. People in the Edelstein house speak but nobody communicates. Rose is the first person narrator, a witness to her dysfunctional family's despair.
Bender writes beautifully. She does not use quotation marks for dialogue. She does not need to. Her rhythm is so well established. The problem with this book is that there is no plot. I wanted so badly to love this book but I couldn't. The ending is the biggest failure of a 'surprise' that I have encountered in a long time. I turned back the pages twice to check that this was what the author intended.
Sadly, it was.
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