Notes: I won this book from a fellow book blogger's giveaway, and received the book directly from the publisher.
A brief summary: "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." (from Goodreads)
My thoughts: I had high expectations for this book, because the premise sounded unusual and fascinating. I was pretty disappointed with the book overall, though, for several reasons.
First, I have some difficulty with non-standard punctuation and prose, and Bender's lack of quotation marks in dialogue made this book frustrating to read at times. I'm not a big fan of stylistic creativity in that way, though I can see that it lent a certain disconnectedness to this book.
Second, I felt as though many of the plot lines were left uninvestigated. Rose's father remains a mystery for the majority of the novel, though that is somewhat resolved by the end. The circumstances of Rose's brother Joseph remain alarming, unfinished, and unusually vague. Bender's world is magical reality; things are both like we know them and not, but there's not much clarification as to why or how.
This book was not charming or humorous, as some reviewers have said. I found a surprising lack of humanness in this book, which is also contrary to what many have said. Instead, I found it largely underdeveloped and flat.
Rating: 1 star
Want to see another opinion? Check out Lynne's review! She gave The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake 4 stars!