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Food Filled With TMI   3 comments

partciularsadness

Aimee Bender’s second novel, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, is quirky but glum. The premise follows Rose, the young narrator, and her ability to discern people’s emotions through the food they prepare. This is in stark contrast to the concept that cooking and eating meals are meant to be enjoyed and shared. Poor Rose must develop a strategy to avoid knowing more than she cares or wants, but, of course, she also has to eat.

It doesn’t help that Rose’s family is on the eccentric side to begin with. Lane, her mother, is flighty. And, as Rose deduces from her mother’s cooking, Lane is also very unhappy. Rose’s father is distant and professional. Her brother, Joe, is a genius void of social skills, with an enigma of his own. Despite the food affliction, Rose is pretty much the clan’s anchor with Joe’s friend, George.

Bender deftly portrays the efforts young Rose endures to, at first, keep her disorder a secret and, eventually, live with it. Rose is wise and perceptive; she is smart enough not to reveal too much. Although there are a few light moments, it’s more than a slice of cake that’s particularly sad. Rose and most everyone around her are all woefully unhappy.

The story’s saving grace is Bender’s writing which blends melancholy with the bizarre, while throwing sensitivity and a bit of wry humor into the mix. She’s also excellent at describing a Los Angeles neighborhood that doesn’t rely on tired landmarks.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
Three-and-and-half Bookmarks
Doubleday, 2010
292 pages

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3 responses to “Food Filled With TMI

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  1. 3.5 bookmarks is generous, Robin. Nonetheless, I love reading your reviews. It’s my little way of keeping in touch–with what you’re reading and eating 🙂

  2. On the recommendation of a friend, I read this book a couple of years ago. Honestly, I kept waiting for some big metaphor to come rushing off the page and made it all the way to the end hoping to discover the meaning of it all. I was left with a bizarre mix of confusion and disappointment.

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