The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
Aimee Bender

Rose Edelstein has an unusual talent. She is able to taste the emotions of the people who made the food she eats and even detect where it was produced. Unfortunately, this skill has its downfall. Able to detect the feelings of those around her without the insulation of social lies, she becomes isolated and depressed. It is only towards the end of the novel when she discovers that others in her family might suffer from similar reality-bending abilities does she begin to feel more positive and hopeful about her future.


This was such an interesting book. It left me thinking long after I finished reading. It is a good example of magical realism; the fantastic happens in a mundane sort of way.

Aimee Bender is very talented. This is her debut novel, but the writing seems to imply a more seasoned author. The story begins when Rose is only 9 years old. The narrative reflects the perspective of someone that young. It shows without telling that Rose is scared and uncertain about her skill. As Rose grows older, the narrative also matures. Likewise, the mystery of her brother is treated in a similar manner. The reader is not permitted to know more than the main character. At one point, the main character even knows more than us! This technique allows Bender to reveal a plot twist in a more suspenseful way.

I would recommend this novel to readers who enjoy magical realism or family drama.


About shortlibrarian

I am a woman working in the Twin Cities as a programming Librarian.
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