‘Lemon Cake’ Strange, Never A Dull Read For Mullinax


Courtesy Photo

“The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake” by Aimee Bender came out in June of 2010.

Olyvia Mullinax, Paolite Staff Writer

“The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake” by Aimee Bender is a work of psychological fiction that came out in June of 2010. The book is classified as an adult book, but it did win an Alex award in 2011. Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18.

“The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake” is a story about the difficulty of loving someone when you know too much about them. Throughout the book, the protagonist Rose Edelstein’s main struggle is coming to terms with her newly-unlocked magical ability. Her power allows her to know things about the people around her without them telling her. Rose’s character arc is learning how to deal with this curse.

In the very beginning, a nine year-old Rose comes home to her mother making lemon cake for her birthday — the plot point that warrants the novel’s title. Rose eats the cake, and for the first time, she can taste her mother’s emotions. She discovers that under her mother’s happy and outgoing exterior, her mother is actually very depressed and unhappy with her marriage. Naturally, it is a lot for the young girl, and it only gets worse for her from there.

As she grows older and her brother, Joseph, grows more angry and distant from her, she finds out through her mother’s cooking that her mother is having an affair. Joseph has always been distant and preferred to keep to himself, finding company in books instead of people. When he randomly starts to disappear at night, it starts to become a problem for the family.

Rose finds solace in her brother’s outgoing friend, George. That relationship ends as George goes to college while Rose remains in high school.

Rose’s life seems to be spiraling out of control right from under her feet without anything she can do about it – her ability becoming more of a burden than ever. She starts to make poor decisions and does things that she regrets. Throughout the trying times she faces, Rose finds out who her true friends are.

The interesting plot presentation, defined and detailed characters and contrastingly beautiful and light-filled setting of Southern California combine to form a book unlike any other. Bender’s prose is accessible for many reading levels but is still beautifully written.

As the title implies, this story is nothing short of strange. It may be out of the ordinary, but “The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake” is truly innovative in terms the ideas it delves into. The novel is consistently less sweet and more so bitter in the best way possible.

Potential readers should be warned that the negative themes can become overwhelming, sometimes reaching the point where one may need to take a breather, but overall the novel makes for a read without a dull or predictable moment.