The Peculiar Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

aimee benderThe Peculiar Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender was book of the month for my book group. This is not a book that I would have picked up otherwise. Still, I have often said that one good reason for joining a book group is to read out of my comfort zone. The Peculiar Sadness of Lemon Cake was certainly out of my comfort zone!

I had never heard of the author prior to reading her book. Aimee Bender was born and raised in Santa Monica, California, USA. She received a bachelor’s degree in theater from the University of California, San Diego, in 1991 and studied for her Masters Degree in fine arts program at the University of California, Irvine. Bender is acclaimed as a unique writer of her time. Her wordplay and use of metaphors set her apart from her peers. There is no doubt she is a clever woman.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake was a very unusual story. Rose Edelstein, on the eve of her ninth birthday, discovers that she can taste the emotions of her mother in the homemade lemon-chocolate birthday cake she lemon cakemade. All at once Rose’s 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. Eating becomes frightening for Rose. This is a strange household with Rose’s brother disappearing and reappearing as well as almost absent parents.

The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake was a story that presented a very interesting premise and the relationships between Rose, George and her brother were interesting. Also, the mystery surrounding the protagonist’s brother kept me reading even when story dragged and the writing style grated on my nerves. I think punctuation and  quotation marks are important because they help me sort out the type of prose I am reading. This author does not seem to consider that to be important.

This story is very hard to describe but I read it straight through. Largely, to get to the end of it and get rid of it. This was not a book I enjoyed, nor could I recommend it. I will not seek out any further novels by Aimee Bender.

Valerie Penny





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