Review: Aimee Bender – The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
Aimee Bender
Rose wakes up one morning with the ability to taste the feelings of the person who made the food she eats. This feeling gets worse for her as she pinpoints things, and she ends up subsiding almost entirely on junk food. Not to mention the rest of her family is just as bonkers and aimless.
It was an easy, throwaway read that I got through, but didn’t feel any particular need to keep reading. But I had time, I didn’t have anything else I needed to do, eh, it was in the book basket at the house we were staying at.
I didn’t really understand what happened to Joe. I was puzzled throughout the narrative. I was unsatisfied by her father’s responses. And his fear of hospitals. He could have done something! He never tried it! What about her poor Grandfather? Why did she never notice anything before? Is she blind because she has a hypo sense of smell?
The ending is distinctly unsatisfying. In fact, when we get down to it, it’s all unsatisfying. I wanted a relationship with George. I thought that’s what she was going to get. But no, she gets all withdrawn and sorry for herself! Boring, everyday life, when she could legitimately be helping others.
Rose does meet an interesting way of cooking, but really? Couldn’t she just explain to someone rationally (particularly as she gets older) that she has this problem? I get that her mother doesn’t understand, but her father? Why isn’t he brought in until the very end?
Things about this book were weird just because they could be. I didn’t get the affair, the woodworking, the weird packages from Grandma. Why were these thrown in? They didn’t add anything! They just confused me!
I was irritated by the lack of dialogue quotation marks. Arg! Is it so hard to make sure that I know when they are talking to each other? Particularly when their voices all sound so similar, since everything is filtered through Rose?
I found myself confused at the end about when things were happening. What year was this in? Are we having flash backs? What is happening??
I’ve seen some mixed reviews by others since reading it -I think it’s good in theory, but could have more done with it in practice.  If you’ve got a couple of hours to spare where you can’t do anything too absorbing or you’ll miss important conversation, give this book a try and see what you come up with.

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