On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents’ attention, bites into her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the cake. She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother — her cheerful, good-with-crafts, can-do mother — tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes a peril and a threat to Rose.
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is a luminous tale about the enormous difficulty of loving someone fully when you know too much about them. It is heartbreaking and funny, wise and sad, and confirms Aimee Bender’s place as “a writer who makes you grateful for the very existence of language” (San Francisco Chronicle).
"Moving, fanciful, and gorgeously strange"
"The fabulist elements of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake are stunning, but what makes this novel a keeper is the sheer beauty of the language Bender uses to describe love."
"The delicacy with which Bender captures Rose’s tastes makes this not just a deeply felt novel but one of the most inventive pieces of food writing in recent memory." — TimeOut New York
"My guess is that this novel will be one of the year's highlights. Intense and compelling, it explores familial love in an unusually idiosyncratic but nonetheless convincing manner, and I find that I'm still thinking about Rose days after finishing the book."
"If you've ever wondered why people have such a hard time looking in strangers' eyes as they walk down the street, this book, hard as it may be to face, is for you." — LA Weekly
"The joy that one feels in reading the book—as with many of Bender’s stories—is almost heuristic; it is a sort of emotional forensics, a hunting of metaphors gone rogue in a world of men and girls. When you catch them, which happens often enough, the surprise can be bracing."
"Bender gives you the three dimensions plus the two we hide behind. You love the cartoon family. You love the fairy tale. But when Bender pulls aside the curtain and shows you the dark swirling truth, you cannot look away. You feel – that rare and beautiful gift from a truly great book – woken up and unalone."