Wednesday, September 15, 2010

#BookReview: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake - Aimee Bender

Rose Edelstein can taste people's emotions.  She knows when her mother is sad and when the cook at school is angry.  She can even tell if the person that picked the parsley on her plate was in a hurry while doing so.  Imagine the unbearable burden of not being able to enjoy a meal because of all the emotional baggage that comes with it.  Rose seems to have a sixth sense that not only allows her insight into the lives of others through taste, but also through intuition.  She can tell exactly when her mother went from "having a hole inside her" to being filled with happiness.  Though this might seem odd, it turns out that Rose's entire family is a little odd.

Her brother, Joseph, disappears.  Strangely enough, no one seems to notice his absences but Rose.  Quiet and detached from everyone, with the exception of his best friend George, Joseph prefers to be left alone.  Occasionally he lets Rose into his world, but rarely.

The Edelstein parents seem to live two completely separate lives.  Mrs. Edelstein works at a carpentry co-op while Mr. Edelstein works as an attorney.  Neither seems overly involved in their children's lives.  In fact, Mr. Edelstein seems to prefer being detached.  And while Mrs. Edelstein does fret over the children just a bit more, it's obvious that she's distracted by other things outside of the house.

 The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is my first Aimee Bender novel and my first audio book.  Though it took me much longer to get through listening to it than it would have been reading it, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  The "he said" and "she said" sprinkled throughout made me realize just how much it's used in books.  It was annoying at first, but became less noticeable as I listened.  I only listened to it in the car and my commute isn't very long, so it took me a little over a week to work my way through it.  At first my daughter listened to her iPod while I listened to it, but a few days in, she started listening and laughing along.  The story does require you to stretch your imagination, but it's well worth it.

What did you like about the book?
It was so unlike anything I've read in a while.  I don't know that I would categorize it as supernatural or fantasy.  That would imply something otherworldly or in the Harry Potter  or vampire realm.

What didn't you like about the book?
As mentioned, the he said/she said was annoying at first. I don't know that I would have noticed it had I been reading the book instead.  In fact, I'm sure I wouldn't have noticed it.

What could the author do to improve the book?
I've read reviews where the reader complained that the book had an abrupt and unsatisfying ending.  I disagree.  I think the author gave as much detail as was needed and left it up to the reader to decide how the story progressed.  I wouldn't change a thing.

Published June 2010
Listening time: 8 hours, 52 minutes

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