The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

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Hmmm… Where to start? I’ve seen a lot of reviews and such floating around. I won an ARC of this book on Goodreads (not surprised I won, since 100 copies were being given away – that was probably a bad sign right there) and read it in a single sitting today. Doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good thing though.

Rose can taste people’s emotions in the food that they prepare. And not just the cook, but the farmers who picked the ingredients, what farm it came from, etc. When she was around nine years old, she ate a slice of her mother’s homemade lemon cake with chocolate frosting and could literally taste her mother’s depression and despair. Eventually you learn that she’s not the only one in the family with unusual abilities, but apparently she’s the only one in the family who doesn’t have some serious depression issues.

I guess my problem with this book is that while all of these “gifts” are interesting, there didn’t seem to be a point. For instance, Rose never was able to use her food-tasting abilities to help her mom’s depression, or any other relationship. Some really intriguing bonds between her and her brother, her and her mom, her and her dad, her and her friend George were all started… but none of them amounted to anything. When I finished the book, I just thought “Well that was nice and depressing and all… but what’s the point?”

If you really like the idea of hereditary unusual abilities / gifts / powers, try Sarah Addison Allen. She does a much better job – her books will leave you happy and satisfied, unlike this novel. I have read reviews that say Aimee Bender writes good short stories, so maybe I’ll check those out sometime. Maybe.

Sarah Says: 2 stars

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