What I expected and what I got from Aimee Bender’s “The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake” are two completely different things.
I thought it was going to be a sweet novel about a little girl who could taste people’s emotions in the food they created. However, it contained a lot of sad elements that you experience with Rose, the nine year old protagonist.
On Rose’s ninth birthday, her Mother makes her a large and tasty looking lemon cake. The moment Rose takes a bite, she tastes a range of different emotions; sadness, loneliness and despair. She looks around the dinner table to see if her father and brother taste the same thing, but it appears that they taste nothing but icing and cake.
Having the burden of tasting the feelings of people when you’re nine years old, proves to be difficult for little Rose. When eating a pie that her Mother makes for their family dessert one afternoon, she tastes such despair that she confronts her mother,
“What is it? Rose? It’s the pie?”
“You feel so bad,” I said, to the floor tile.
“What do you mean,” she said, touching my shoulder. “Are you talking to the floor? You mean me, again, Rose”
“You’re so sad in there” I said, “and alone, and hungry, and sad–”
“In the pie.”
After gaining the ability to taste when people rush things, when they’re angry or when they’re happy starts to work in Rose’s advantage as she gets older.
This is a coming of age story and there is no doubt about the fact that Aimee Bender is a talented and unique author with a real sense of story telling. I urge all of you to read this delightful novel.