Saturday, September 10, 2011

Can you taste what the chef meant?

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender falls into the category of books which, in my system of classification, should be called "books with really weird premises." Nine year old Rose realizes on her birthday that she can detect the emotions of the person who prepared the food she eats. She tastes her mother's unhappiness in her lemon birthday cake. Maybe nine years old is when children begin to realize that their parents are not perfect and have feelings beyond the ones they project in an attempt to be good parents and shield their children from life's sorrows. In Rose's case though, everyone's feelings come crashing in on her every time she takes a bite of food.
In Rose's family, her brother and her mother both have secret lives and the father chooses to be oblivious to everyone. The story follows Rose from her ninth birthday into young adulthood. By that time, the family secrets are laid bare and Rose has learned to accomodate her special skill. The challenge for the author of a book with a really weird premise, is how to live up to that premise and carry it through in a logical manner integrated into the story. Aimee Bender's book lives up to the premise well, I thought.

Similar books: Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquival;  Chocolat by Joanne Harris; The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd.

More Books with Weird Premises

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