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The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake | [Aimee Bender]

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

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.
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Publisher's Summary

The wondrous Aimee Bender conjures the lush and moving story of a girl whose magical gift is really a devastating curse.

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 curse her gift has bestowed is the secret knowledge all families keep hidden - her mother's life outside the home, her father's detachment, her brother's clash with the world. Yet as Rose grows up she learns to harness her gift and becomes aware that there are secrets even her taste buds cannot discern.

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).

©2010 Aimee Bender (P)2010 Random House

What the Critics Say

"Charming and wistful....[Bender] harness[es] her exquisite, bizarre sensitivity, in this haunting examination" (The Atlantic)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.1 (358 )
5 star
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Overall
3.3 (113 )
5 star
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1 star
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Story
3.3 (115 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Mrs S J Foster-Collins 8 The Sedges, St Leonard's on Sea, East Sussex TN38 9TU 03-31-11
    Mrs S J Foster-Collins 8 The Sedges, St Leonard's on Sea, East Sussex TN38 9TU 03-31-11 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "???? what was it about?"

    Unlike most listeners, I didn't mind the narrator, but maybe that's because I'm from the UK. But as for the content - I just didn't get it, I didn't get what the brother was doing, I see from other reviews that that became clear in the last 10 mins but even going back to the last 10mins, I still didn't get it, and I couldn't be bothered to go back further. I would be pleased to find the answer to that, as for the rest of it, it just seemed that each family member had strange problems.
    Would I recommend it? NO, definitely not. Life is too short to waste 8 hours listening to this!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S New York, NY, United States 08-22-10
    S New York, NY, United States 08-22-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    47
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    20
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    "Disappointing...."

    I so wanted to love this book. What an interesting premise, wonderful material... yet so poorly executed. I agree with previous reviews that this book needed a more attentive editor and a professional reader. (I enjoy autobiographies read by the authors, but otherwise it adds nothing, certainly a very poor choice in this case.) A nine year-old with the entirety of her experience in California cannot possibly imagine fields in Kansas and Nebraska. The author tries very hard to convey the overwhelming confusion of a child trying to cope with adult emotions she is forced to taste and consume, but fails to consistently represent the child's experience and point of view. What a waste. This manuscript was not nearly polished enough to have been published.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robin West Bloomfield, MI, United States 08-21-10
    Robin West Bloomfield, MI, United States 08-21-10
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    2
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    "ridiculous"

    It's amazing to me that this got so many good reviews. The premise is absolutely ridiculous. Don't get me wrong, I am happy to suspend disbelief and entertain fanciful notions if they have some point. What was the point here? A family with strange and pointless special abilities? It goes nowhere.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth Longwood, FL, United States 07-28-10
    Elizabeth Longwood, FL, United States 07-28-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
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    7
    3
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    "The Particular Sadness of Bad Writing"

    Yes, the narration if horrible, but I am mostly disappointed in a story that went absolutely nowhere and takes 8 hours to do it. Imagine being stuck on a detour that loops in circles with no scenic stimulation all day! We are led by characters with no depth and as far as I can tell, no redeeming qualities. I didn't care about anyone. Bender's hook was great and as such, obviously her agent and publisher believed it was enough. Too bad so many trees were killed to make this a "bestseller." I'm glad at least my misery was an easily deletable download.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jiayun Midlothian, VA, USA 07-08-10
    Jiayun Midlothian, VA, USA 07-08-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
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    12
    2
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    "bad narrating"

    the narrator was the writer herself, she should just stick to writing, and leave the narrating to the pros. I've listened to more than 20 audio books so far and this is the worst narrating yet, to the point that I am not really interested in listening to it, which is a shame cause the story seem intriguing... I will finish it eventually since I paid for it, but it could have been much better with a proper narrator.

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Al Cape Coral, FL, United States 07-01-10
    Al Cape Coral, FL, United States 07-01-10 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
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    133
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    "I said, she said, he said"

    While the story is interesting. It is very hard to listen to. There are SO MANY I,she,he "saids" that it seems like that is all that the you hear

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Terry Pittsford, NY, United States 06-15-12
    Terry Pittsford, NY, United States 06-15-12 Member Since 2003

    I listen to too many audio books; love about 80% of them. History, historic fiction, biography, fantasy and science fiction are favorites.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    47
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    "Might have been a great experience"

    My wife loved this book, so I tried it. Fool that I am, I failed to notice that it was "read by the author." Bender might be a good author, but her reading made the book sound like classified ads.

    Authors reading their own books. Isn't there a proposition against that in California?

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aline Fortuna, CA, United States 12-02-10
    Aline Fortuna, CA, United States 12-02-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    2
    2
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    "Particular sadness of reading a disappointing book"

    The premise seemed interesting, but the development of the story was so slow, so painful, that I lost interest.It took forever to learn that there was more to the story than the girl tasting people's emotions, and if I hadn't been doing something that was really interesting while listening, I think I would have quit. The family's other "skills" hardly showed up until the end. I love description, when it's done right, but in this book, I thought the details were tedious. I do not recommend this book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cindy LAGUNA BEACH, CA, United States 10-27-10
    Cindy LAGUNA BEACH, CA, United States 10-27-10 Member Since 2001
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    4
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    "Miserable"

    I don't know what was worse, the miserable narration... almost in a monotone, or the story that dragged on and on.... I kept thinking, please end and put me out of my misery! To make it worse... it was a depressing read.... yuck!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Leigh Dublin, GA, United States 08-13-10
    Leigh Dublin, GA, United States 08-13-10 Member Since 2009

    I am a college composition instructor, and reading is extremely important to me.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    "Stop authors from reading!"

    This book MAY be tolerable, but the author's reading of it is NOT. In fact, I don't know if I disliked the story or just her voice. Don't choose this; I listen to various types of books, and I couldn't listen to this.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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