I’m an avid reader, but it’s not often I find a book that I just can’t put down. In fact, before a few weeks ago, the last book I read in a day was either Bel Canto or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and before that it was Eat Cake by Jeanne Ray. So, it’s been awhile. And I couldn’t have been more surprised when The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender captured me in that way, that obsessive way in which the rest of one’s day disappears (dishes, dinner, laundry, walking the dog – though he sits next to you, whining for his walk, you cannot hear him!) and all one can do is read, read, read!
Sometimes it is the action or the mystery in the book that draws one in, but in the case of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake it is the voice of the main character, Rose Edelstein, and her unique ability to taste the emotions of the people who prepare her food that really got me. By eating their food, Rose has a distinct understanding of the emotional and personal struggles of her mother, father, and brother; an understanding that becomes a burden and causes a such a sadness in Rose that she relies strictly on processed food for sustenance. This book is driven by Rose’s isolation and the deep sense of responsibility she has for keeping her family together, along with just the right amount of magical realism (Rose’s brother and father also have unique abilities). The subtle originality of this coming-of-age story will draw you in, and Rose’s personal journey will keep you reading.