“The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake” by Aimee Bender

In conclusion, I said, a Dorito asks nothing of you, which is its great gift. It only asks that you are not there.

I honestly don’t know where to start. From the beginning, perhaps?

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake has quite a magical premise. Rose Edelstein, the main character, finds herself deconstructing the food she tastes, and not just into different flavours, but into different feelings, different locations, different production routines. This is not something she does for pleasure, it’s something that simply happens to her on the eve of her ninth birthday, when she tries her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake. That’s when it all starts. That’s when she tastes the hollowness for the first time. And it doesn’t belong to the ingredients, it belongs to her mother.

If I had to describe The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake in one word, I think I would go with softness. I surprised myself while considering this because this novel has its heavy moments. It’s almost as if Rose, understanding the power of feelings, took extra care with the creation of this story so that the reader didn’t feel like scratching her/his eyes out. It’s so gentle, so kind, so light… it’s truly beautiful.

I fell in love with this family and their special ways. Aimee Bender has a rather enchanting way with words that give a singular final touch to her characters. Every single one of them is interesting, every single one of them has something unique about them, even if sometimes they forget, or wish they did. I found them to be so human, so real… so easy to bond with, to understand.

I guess I expected more clarity with the ending, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s the bittersweetness of the last slice of a memory cake.


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