Customer Reviews for

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

18 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

A unique and gripping tale -- Certainly worth a read...

Very interesting plot -- I couldn't put the book down until I found some closure. Bender uses exceptionally elegant language and poetic devices. The story is enthralling, albeit a bit dark and (at times) depressing. This book is one of a kind. A very fast read. The fusi...
Very interesting plot -- I couldn't put the book down until I found some closure. Bender uses exceptionally elegant language and poetic devices. The story is enthralling, albeit a bit dark and (at times) depressing. This book is one of a kind. A very fast read. The fusion of a real-life scenario, whimsical characteristics, and complete fantasy is perhaps a bit overwhelming -- but once again, I couldn't put it down.

posted by TenorMan on June 5, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

17 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

This is very good book to take on vacation. I read it practically in one sitting.

This is an unusual little book which is told in the voice of a nine year old girl with a special talent. Rose can taste the mood and emotions of the people who have prepared the food she eats. It makes it very hard for her to eat food and enjoy it since she feels the em...
This is an unusual little book which is told in the voice of a nine year old girl with a special talent. Rose can taste the mood and emotions of the people who have prepared the food she eats. It makes it very hard for her to eat food and enjoy it since she feels the emotions almost as physical pain.
The book is hard to put it down. You, the reader, want to discover from where this strange gift comes and whether or not it can be controlled. The story takes you through parental relationships, sibling relationships and teenage relationships with all the drama these relationships encompass. It really holds your interest, but, in the end, there are a lot of questions left unanswered.
Although the characters are well developed, they have holes in their history and explanations for particular behaviors fall short of the mark. Also, the paranormal plays a large role in this book, but it is not given enough importance. It is treated almost as an afterthought and yet the book turns on the supernatural capabilities of the characters. Often there are scenes and major events occurring which seem to require deeper exploration but they are passed over as if they are simply commonplace and are largely ignored by the characters. The disappearance of a brother is dismissed casually, as if, this happens all the time and he will reappear. Yet, it is not a casual disappearance. A father's inability to enter a hospital is dismissed as quirkiness when it is far more than that.
Still, I would recommend the book. It is also a tender story about people who are unable to express their feelings in normal ways. They all harbor secrets. In the end, the nine year old child is a young woman who finds herself through trial and error as she works out her family issues and her personal ones. She seems the most well adjusted when the book concludes, as she makes use of her gift and learns to deal with her unusual life successfully. She, above all, seems to understand the people around her as well, and is accepting and forgiving of all their shortcomings.

posted by thewanderingjew on July 20, 2010

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  • Posted June 5, 2010

    A unique and gripping tale -- Certainly worth a read...

    Very interesting plot -- I couldn't put the book down until I found some closure. Bender uses exceptionally elegant language and poetic devices. The story is enthralling, albeit a bit dark and (at times) depressing. This book is one of a kind. A very fast read. The fusion of a real-life scenario, whimsical characteristics, and complete fantasy is perhaps a bit overwhelming -- but once again, I couldn't put it down.

    18 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The particular sadness of feeling too much...

    This is the perfect book for the type of person who can literally feel time pass or sense the depth of feelings in a room, and is overwhelmed by that at time while not ever wanting to really stop feeling it. It's thought provoking, heartbreaking, and in a strange way exhilarating.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 14, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    I LIKED IT!!!!

    Nine year old Rose Edelstein bites into her mother's homemade lemon cake and discovers she can taste her mother's emotions in the cake. Is this a magical gift or an enormous burden? From that day on food becomes the enemy. She can't eat anything without tasting the emotions of the person who made it. Factory processed food becomes her menu of choice because it is made mostly by machines that have no emotions. When she eats anything prepared by her mother she tastes the lies, desperation and despair. Food prepared by her brother without tasting how miserable he feels about his life.

    With the help of one of her brother's friends she tests herself and tries to understand the magnitude of this "gift". She tastes many things about her own family, secrets she wished she didn't know, but she also realizes there are some secrets her enhanced taste buds do not understand.

    Again this type of story is not one I would usually read and I think I will have to change, and add books with a little fantasy to my preferred genres. This book was a little sad and depressing in places but the story moved right along and kept the pages turning. I don't want to give the whole storyline away, but I will say it ended sooner than I would have liked. As Rose started to understand her ability and was moving ahead with her life, the story ended and I feel there was a little more to tell. With that said, I did like this book



    To find out more about this author, visit her web page at http://www.flammableskirt.com/home.html

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the Doubleday Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 13, 2013

    I don't understand the negative comments. Loved this book

    I don't understand the negative comments. Loved this book

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 17, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    magical

    The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender is a book I've been looking forward to reading this summer.

    Rose has never stood out. At school, she has just the one friend. At home, her father is loving, but distant, unable to fully interact with his children. Her brother Joe removes himself from as much of life as possible, preferring to be alone with his scientific formulas. Her mother is like a hummingbird, flitting from one interest to another, always in motion.

    When she is nine, her mother, who loves to cook, makes Rose a chocolate lemon cake. The taste of the ingredients are there, but Rose is shaken to discover that what she inexplicably finds is:

    "...the taste of smallness, the sensation of shrinking, of upset, tasting a distance I somehow knew was connected to my mother, tasting a crowded sense of her thinking, a spiral, like I could almost even taste the grit in her jaw that had created the headache..."

    She tries to explain to her mother, the school nurse and the doctor - and it's all brushed away with reasonable explanations. The only one who does take her seriously is her brother's only friend George.

    It's not a one time occurrence. Rose now tastes the feelings and emotions in any and all foods. She is able to identify the origins of any ingredient. She survives by mostly eating mass produced junk food from the school vending machine.

    When she is twelve, she tastes a secret in her mother's dinner - one she doesn't want to know.

    The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is utterly original and absolutely captivating. It's the story of Rose - a character I fell in love with. Her attempts to understand what is happening, her acceptance of it and efforts to have a regular life all tugged at me. But it's also the exploration of dysfunctional family relationships. Joe frightened me and I found his part of the story somewhat disturbing. Dad was a sad, touching character. Mom - well, I know she loved her children, but I just couldn't warm up to her at all. well. I really enjoyed the characters introduced at the end and think there's a story there as well.

    I think readers are either going to love this book or hate it - the magical realism may turn some readers off. You have to suspend disbelief to become fully immersed in the story. I loved it - it reminded me of the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time crossed with Addison's The Sugar Queen.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    GREAT message, good read

    I liked this book alot because I think the messages it conveys are complex and applicable to everyone. The narrarator can literally taste the feelings of people who make the food she eats. Whether it is a home cooked meal, a dish prepared by a chef, or a packaged food, she can trace the origin of the ingredients and the thoughts, intentions, and feelings of the hands that made it. This book requires the reader to play along for a few plot points, just go with it. It's worth it. If you can overlook the unrealistic aspects of the plot, you'll be greatly satisfied with the messages it sends. I found that because of Bender's writing style and constant descriptions of objects and stuff and things and scenary etc etc...the message becomes pretty center stage: objects represent the complexities of people, and people sometimes act as inanimate as objects. It makes you wonder what your stuff would say about you, and what you would learn about those around you if you could taste their feelings. Overall, I loved her subtle ways of uniting people and objects through description, and sometimes lack thereof, and I thought it was a great book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2013

    Amazing book, i don't understand any negative c

    Comments. It's like you didn't get it. (?),,,

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2013

    SDoloD

    DOL
    OD@
    Fl

    L

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2012

    Flame

    I care

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  • Posted September 24, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Sumptuous feast for the senses in this odd tale

    Sumptuous feast for the senses in this odd tale

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2012

    Different, but very good!

    Interesting look into a strange family

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  • Posted January 12, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Different, but intriguing!

    This was yet another step outside of my normal reading habits. I enjoyed it though. Rose is a sweet spirited girl until she discovers that she can taste feelings in food. From that point on her life is dramatically different. I wanted to cry for the little girl who knew so much more than any child should know about her mother. The idea that she couldn't enjoy food anymore because the majority of the world around her was so unhappy! I imagine it would be awful.

    One of the things that makes this book so different is the detachment of the characters. You have Paul, the dad, who likes to have his normal organized family, and goes through the motions even when things aren't so great. You have Joseph who prefers to be alone all of the time and very rarely engages with the family. You have Rose who, before long, avoids cooked foods because there is too much emotion there. She sticks to processed snack food so that all she tastes are the methodical factories that produce the food. Then there is Lane, the mom. She is so sad and so empty. We know more of her emotions than any other character because it is the one thing that Rose can't avoid. She tastes it in every meal. She is so sad, and lonely.

    The book was well written and definitely creative, but it left me feeling empty as I read it. The emotions are conveyed beautifully by the author.

    I will be honest, there is a secondary plot line involving Joseph that is kind of out there. For most of the book he goes through these spells where he disappears. We don't know why, and we don't know where he goes, but we know that something is off. When this begins to resolve it gets a little different. It was actually the part of the book that we spent the most time talking about at book club. The majority could only use the word 'weird'. I leaned more towards 'interesting'. This book is in the genre of magical realism so you have to be willing to accept that a lot of it isn't really explained in concrete satisfactory terms. It's about the emotion conveyed through the story.

    This was a story of loss innocence for a young girl. Once she grows up she realizes that by avoiding the emotions in food, she has avoided emotion all together. When she sees what that detachment has done to her brother she sets out to find herself, and really live her life for her. The book ends in the middle of Rose's new beginning and I was left with the feeling that she was going to be ok, even if the path that brought her there was a little bumpy.

    I enjoyed this book and I would recommend it for people who like something a little different and aren't bothered by the unexplained mystical elements. If you don't really like books where there is not a clear concrete explanation it may not be for you.

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  • Posted January 10, 2012

    You'll either love it or hate it.. I loved it.

    Once you get past the fact the author used no quotations with her dialogue, this isn't that bad of a read. It is unbelievably sad, and the deeper you read, the sadder it becomes. I feel for the main character, Rose, and her discovery of being able to taste and feel the emotions of a food preparer (and also where the food itself comes from and who has previously handled it in its early stages).

    Rushed in spots, and overly drawn out in others, it balances out in the end.

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  • Posted November 17, 2011

    Loved - images are beautiful

    Loved this book...i turned down many pages to go back and savor her analogies. Also the concept is so thought provoking and fantastical - the idea of being able to taste the emotions of the person who cooked your food. Gave me a whole new perspective of eating and who is preparing my food. Highly recommend, a sweet, delicious read.

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  • Posted July 23, 2011

    Wonderful and strange

    All the negitive reviews of this book surprise me. I loved it. Maybe some readers just didn't know what to expect from Aimee Bender. You have to take off the leaded boots that keep you rooted in reality to enjoy her off the wall style. Personally, I enjoy everything about it. If you like quirky and off beat....give this book a try. If you want realistic...skip it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2011

    need to eed

    this was a very exciting book. def read!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:):)

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 8, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Open your senses and take a trip with Bender through her world of food thought.

    The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is a luminous tale about the enormous difficulty of loving someone fully when you know too much about them. It is heartbreaking and funny, wise and sad, and confirms Aimee Bender's place as "a writer who makes you grateful for the very existence of language"

    I truly enjoyed reading this book. It is light, refreshing and I just love the writing style of Bender. The main character in the book Rose has a special gift that she discovers on her own and learns to share with others in her own peculiar way. The story revolves around Rose, her mother, father, brother and her brothers only friend. When Rose falls in love you get to feel what she feels with all your senses, Bender leaves nothing behind. Her brother Joseph seems to have a weirdness about him I thought I understood. Yet later in the book I was lost as to what was happening to him and I didn't quite get. Bender takes you right into the room with the characters and you feel like a fly on the wall as you take in their life. I loved Rose and her family and sometimes the story teetered on reality and other times not. But it is fiction and it is what it is. This is a story that truly pulls you back in again and again for another page. You can really lose yourself in the life of Rose and leave your stress behind, if ony for a little while.

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  • Posted February 7, 2011

    Beautiful writing

    I wished for a clearer ending, but the expressive writing style made up for it. This book sticks with you for a while... definitely a good read.

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  • Posted July 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

    What an odd, yet remarkable story that The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is. Nine-year-old Rose bites into her mother's lemon cake and can all of a sudden sense the feelings her mother had when making the cake. Unfortunately, these feelings were of sadness and loneliness. From that moment on, when she eats something, she feels those feelings of those who prepared the food. Too understand this quirky novel, one must read it slowly to really understand it. I found it somewhat gloomy, but it is well-written and one you won't forget.

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  • Posted June 23, 2010

    Good Read

    I connected to the characters really easily. The plot was new and exciting, making for an enjoyable read. The only thing that really caused any troubles was the lack of quotation marks and the fact that she always said 'he/she said' after any bit of dialogue. Very frustrating, but did not take away from it being an original/good book.

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