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This was one of the best books I've read recently. About mid way through the book I felt like part of the plot was "done", and a new part of the book revealed itself. It's about "special" ability, family relationships, fear. About being different and how that is inherited, sometimes hidden, and how some people respond to realizing they are different. I loved this book, the way it was sad and happy at the same time. And I also loved that I didn't know what turns it would take. After years of reading, I am so tired of being able to predict endings, and I enjoy being surprised.
I thought the language and imagery were simply lovely, and the sensitivity Bender treats her characters are heartfelt. I loved the first 1/3 I was just soaking in the character development with its hints of foreboding, but then it just started feeling drawn out and lose focus. George's ending just seemed slapped on and written just to have closure, for instance.
This could have been a really good book, and it started it out well, but then it went to the toilet with all the other waste
I'm usually a fan of magical realism, because I enjoy whimsy now and then. Sometimes magical realism is in darker, grittier novels (like Broken Monsters), and that's very fun as well. But this....this just fell flat.
I think the story is mostly a tragedy. I kept waiting for the MC to grow a bit...and she does, at the very end, in that she becomes a little more compassionate and vulnerable. But honestly, it didn't seem like that much of a hero's journey. There's a lot of just bizarre things happening, with no closure. And also, the MC's parents are fairly terrible at parenting.
In the end, this left me feeling primarily unfulfilled, and was a bit of a slog to finish.
Totally bizarre and somewhat cool. Super senses! Taste and Touch are the primary senses used by the main characters. Sort of spooky, but also thought provoking!
A fairy tale for adults, with a difficult to ascertain moral. It is worth the time investment (about 5 or 6 hours) to see if you agree with the one-star people or the five-star people. The writing itself is lovely, and if there had been quotation marks around the spoken words, I'd probably have given the book 4 1/2 stars myself. I am not a fan of experimental punctuation, but found the experimental story line intriguing.
If this book were a food it would've been Pringles. Shoulda named it "The sadness of extremely boring, hollow people living in Los Angeles." Was 2010 a slow year for publishing?
Okay, spoilers ahead:
I gave this book 1 stars because while it started well, and had writing that flowed (easy to read and get lost in), the book lost me about 1/3 of the way in. I'm compelled to finish books I start unless they're horrendous, so I did read the entire book and I just felt... unsatisfied.
I didn't really connect or relate to any of the characters. I thought the fact that the mother had an affair and it never caused issues was unrealistic. I find the dad's complete lack of concern over his wife's growing distance to be really weird. At the beginning of the book, Rose seems to feel too much, but half-way through, she lost emotional depth to me. It felt like her big personality had become dulled and her emotions has numbed.
The writing was poetic and interesting, but the plot was... unusual. Unusual in the "this may have been meant to be intriguing and a metaphor, but I'm just confused and baffled and it's actually funny but also cringe-worthy". I think it's really bad when readers find something funny that the writer did not intend to be funny.
There were two stories that were wrapped up together in the end, but the way it was done felt rushed, and incomplete, unfinished. It felt like one of the plots was not really an essential part of the book, that it could have been a separate book or just been dropped completely. It would have been a different, perhaps more emotional book, if the plot about Joseph was left out. There could have been more exploration of Rose's growth.
There was also a point in the book, while Rose is considering her mother's bond with Joseph, where she calls it incestuous how Joseph would help her mother remove splinters and that honestly gave me the heebie-jeebies.
On the upside, it was a really short book and I finished it in less than 24 hrs.
TLDR; Unless you really have to read this book, I would skip it and find a more enjoyable one.
Aimee Bender, the author of this book, writes her characters amazingly and they each develop in their own ways to become very well rounded. Rose Edelstein, the main character of this story, is a nine year old girl with an odd gift that she definitely does not expect. When she tastes her mother’s homemade lemon cake with chocolate icing, she finds out she can taste her mom’s and everyone else who makes the food she eats’ emotions. This is a book i would recommend to anyone interested in a book about the troubles of family life and growing up.
**the rest of this review contains spoilers**
The particular sadness of a lemon cake is about a young girl named Rose Edelstein and her relationship with food. It begins with Rose‘s ninth birthday, where she realizes she can taste the feelings of whoever has made her food after taking a bite of her seemingly cheerful mother’s lemon chocolate cake and tasting her sadness and despair. She starts tasting her mother’s feelings with every family meal, and it starts to affect her. The sensory overload that came with knowing of the feelings of everyone that has made her food begins to be too much for her and she starts feeling sick and only eating machine-made foods from vending machines. Fortunately, Rose Edelstein‘s brother and his best friend help her test out her new skill, and in the end she is able to perfect her abilities.
-Reviewed by Jazmine for the Teen Leadership Council.
The first third of the book was amazing--just the concept and trying to figure out where it was going...however it didn't finish as strongly to me and seemed more like a chronicle of different mental illnesses and how people may not address them because they don't know they are there or know that they need addressing because they are so far in them in their every day norm. It was...interesting...hit a lot of triggers for me personally that were painful.
Am interested to read. It sound similar to The Cupcake Therapist, where the main character, a pastry chef, is able to get senses of tastes from being in presence of people to find out about them.
Started out as a very creative description of an odd case of synesthesia in a girl with an unconvincing and romanticized "functional" family. Then at Chapter 28 (with three hours of audio left) it spirals into utter foolishness. Having written herself into a hole of absurdity and not sure what to do about it, the author forces the characters to stall for a while so she can figure it out. In the meantime, she awkwardly makes them live out her own teenage fantasies then quickly "fixes" it all with short chapters and bad explanations.
The story was interesting-ish enough to keep me reading to the end, but the writing style was intensely mundane, lacking of good vocabulary, and the message of the book left me feeling more empty than before I read it.
I also really didn't like the authors non-use of quotations for dialogue, where she instead kept using "he said" "I said" like an elementary school student.
A review I had read summed up the mood of this book which was attempting to sound "poetically dreary".
Bizarre, this book is simply bizarre.
This was clearly a first novel for the author. Interesting idea, not fully fleshed out. Left me feeling a "Particular Sadness" for having read the book.
This was the kind of book that caught my interest right from the start. A really unique concept (tasting people's emotions through their food), and an interesting take on family dynamics. I was very pleasantly surprised by this one!
Easy to read, but really weird. A brother who disappears into a chair, a father who abhors hospitals, and grandmother who is just as strange and a grandfather with odd abilities of his own. Just a meandering tale with no purpose, other than to entertain in a quircky way. Which sometimes isn't enough.
This book felt similar to A Wrinkle In Time. Smart brother who loves science, misfit sister, and a touch of fantasy. It works! I enjoyed the book and while the ending was not quite what I hoped, I liked that it was expected and unexpected!
A patron review from the Adult Summer Reading Game: I loved the concept of this book. As I was reading it, I realized I had read it already and forgot the storyline. I enjoyed it (again).
I honestly don't know why this book is getting such negative reviews. I really liked this book and thought it was interesting. Don't get fooled by the blurb that this is one of those books about a teenager coming of age, because it's not--I would describe it as a mash-up of mystery, realistic fiction, and fantasy. I found some parts of the book deeply depressing and some of it quirky, and I liked the open-ended ending.
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is well written fantasy with its basis in realism. The story explores the life of a young girl and her seemingly typical family, as well as, her unique ability to taste the feelings of the chef in the food she eats. This discovery leads to complex revelations about her family and the world. I found the first three-fourths of the book to be very enjoyable, but the ending was very unsatisfactory, unbelievable, and diverted far from the original story line and premise. However, others have told me that they very much enjoyed all parts of the book.
Super fun premise if you are a fan of mystical realism. The concept of emotion-tasting contrasts the mundane suburban life of an ordinary, passably-functional family. It's sometimes a bit melancholy, which rings true to life for a first-person narrative of a coming-of-age tale of a girl who desires to earn favor & emotional connection w/ her socially awkward older brother. However, there a several different directions in the plot lines, and I had a little trouble envisioning some scenes - enough that I almost quit.