Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake - Aimee Bender

Publisher:  Doubleday, 2010
Pages:  292
Source:  Received copy from publisher
Genre:  YA Realsitic Fiction with a touch of something almost science fiction/paranormal

This book was hard to put into one of my hardcore genres.  There is the realistic fiction aspect, yet we have the science fiction/paranormal aspect to it.  It doesn't matter really because this is one book that was so good that I believe just about anyone would enjoy it.  Almost everyone at some point in their life wishes they had some special gift.  But, what if that gift turned out to be something you really didn't want?

Rose Edelstein is just your average girl.  She lives with her father who is a lawyer, her mother who doesn't really know where she fits, and her brother Joseph.  At the beginning of this book I thought that the description of Joseph was of a young man with a high functioning form of autism.  As I read further into the book I saw he was more in the genius field.  Of course we are told that as we go along.  Unlike his best friend George, Joseph has very few people skills, he doesn't make friends very easy.  George is like Joseph except with the social balance.  Rose goes through the first nine years of her life just thinking she is normal and that there is nothing special about her.  Then for her 9th birthday her mother bakes her a chocolate iced lemon cake.  In this cake Rose doesn't taste the ingredients like most of us would.  Rose can taste all of her mother's emotions.  As her mother makes the cake she feels empty and unfulfilled in her life and where it has taken her.  This emotion comes through in her cake.  Rose has several of these episodes  and no one understands.  Then she asks George.  He has been a true friend, even if he is older.  He takes her out for her birthday and conducts and experiment.  At least now she knows she is not nuts.  George believes her.  The problem is, how do you go through life knowing that everything you eat is going to taste like the emotions of the person who fixed it.  Imagine getting ready for school and your mother fixes you breakfast after she and your father have had an arguement.  You taste the bitterness and the anger. 
In addition to Rose's problem her brother keeps disappearing.  She knows he is actually in the house but not visible and her parents don't believe it.  This is a lot for a young girl to handle.  She can't get anyone to believe anything she says abut the food or her brother.  Something else bothered me in this story, why could Rose's father not go into hospitals.  I've known people who have a fear of hospitals and just refuse but this seemed really strange. 
I am wondering how many of my students will read this and see the distance growing between Rose's parents and identify with it?  I think this will be a wonderful addition to my bookshelves.  I will be getting students this year who don't know about my shelves unless they have had a sibling at our school.  I look forward to placing this book on my chalk tray as an introduction to my books.

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