What We’re Reading: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

The Gist: A dreamy novel about an eight year-old girl who grows up fast when an inconvenient superpower changes the way she eats. Suddenly able to taste in food the feelings of the person who prepared it, she realizes for the first time that mommy isn’t so happy after all.

Author: Aimee Bender
Publisher: Doubleday
Page Count: 304
Pages Read: 217

Does It Work? If every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, Ms. Bender’s is particularly special. Her narrator isn’t the only one with a special, painful skill, and discovering the talents of the rest of her family keeps Lemon Cake from becoming Just Another Suburban Drama. Her playful prose keeps the magic realism from becoming oppressive, and in the end this is one of the most pleasant books we’ve read all year.

Best Moment So Far: On being too old for your old toys: “We were, after all, almost thirteen. With naked dolls in hand, or even the occasional doll-baby, it sometimes felt like we were pedophiles.”

Odds We’ll Finish It: 1/2. We would have done so already, had some social degenerate not stolen our cart at IKEA, taking our first copy of Ms. Bender’s book along with it. Who says Red Hook is safe?

What We’re Reading: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake