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Friday, September 28, 2012

THE PARTICULAR SADNESS OF LEMON CAKE by Aimee Bender

June 1st, 2010 - Doubleday
Synopsis: On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein 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 slice. To her horror, she finds that her cheerful mother tastes of despair. Soon, she’s  privy to the secret knowledge that most families keep hidden: her father’s detachment, her mother’s transgression, her brother’s increasing retreat from the world. But there are some family secrets that even her cursed taste buds can’t discern.

So, basically this book has kind of pretty prose, but that's where the prettiness stops. 

I start the book, and I'm thinking, "Okay. This is cool! I love the idea of her tasting the emotions of whoever cooked the food she's eating! So cool! Oh! What clever and witty banter! Hardee-har-har!"

You know, it starts out good, actually. I thought I was going to really like this for a while, because the first quarter is actually very good. I liked her mother at first: You're made to feel pitiful towards her, as she slips into a rut in life, and desperately searches for something to cling to. But by halfway through the book, I was like...

SHE WAS SO ARGHBHIWOUCNQWOFULQKLBLNCQWCNHRY938Y3RP222222222XMF724XCN! GAH! SHE WAS SO STUPID AND UGH!

She obviously loved Rose's older stupid hoe brother, Joseph, more than her, and Rose even admits it!!! DESPITE HIS BEING A TOTAL D-BAG! God! He's such a freaking brat! He gets what he wants, and he doesn't thank anyone. Later in the book (and this really isn't a spoiler, because it doesn't really affect the plot) when it skips to five years later, he's moved out into an apartment, and the. Mother. Is. Freaking. Paying. His. Rent. And. For. His. College. Classes. He doesn't thank her, and yet she's all googly-eyes over him. I mean, seriously-she doesn't spend a squick of time with her husband, and yet she's fawning over her son.

You know what...? Now that I think of it, they were probably committing incest behind the scenes. It wouldn't surprise me either: If the Jackson Five, Honey Boo-Boo, and the Kardashians were to donate genes, and scientists used them to grow a family, the Edelstein's would be the dysfunctional, messed-up thing that came out.

So let me get back to the characters. Like I said, the mom's an idiot. But now let me rant about Joseph more. So this little brat, who's labelled a total genius in school, comes home every day and holes himself in his room. Rose keeps mentioning stories, which kind of just build up his reputation as a brat. For instance, in one, she laments of how her brother comes to the dining room table, and doesn't talk at all. He doesn't make conversation, but is just quiet. He just reads crap. He reads the boxes of whatever his mom made to cook the meal they're eating, and once, when Rose took the box in front of him away, he just stared into space for a minute and then closed his eyes. Rose's mom, being the beyond stupid person she is, believes he, though only about eight years-old at the time of this, is closing his eyes so he can focus on the taste of the food better, and so she closes her eyes for the rest of the meal and "mmmm"s. When asked later why she followed Joseph's lead, her mother tells Rose that when she gave birth to him at the hospital, and she saw his bright eyes for the first time, she knew he would guide her through life (whatever hippy crap that means), and she goes on to explain she basically saw nothing in her daughter's eyes.

Her brother was so arrogant when left alone with her as well. He would brag about how smart he is, and I was just like...

Then, when "certain" things were revealed later in the story (the last forty pages of which I skimmed so I wouldn't have to endure them, but still wanted to see if the little twerp got what was coming to him) I was honestly like...


And...


Then her dad was just a really annoying guy, because you could tell he knew his family was falling apart, but he was like, "Haha! Nope! I won't do anything!"

None of these characters were realistic, and also, their dialogue was so annoying, because none of them ever really confronted each other about something, but they instead just danced around the subject and used euphemisms and really awful metaphors. 

I was sympathetic for Rose at first, and then I read the whole book... Nope. She's so calm, even when faced with an annoyingly stupid mother who loves her annoyingly bratty brother who avoids their annoyingly evasive father. Another instance of stupidity (again, this really doesn't affect the plot at all): Rose says she hates this guy as a kid, and then, later as a college-age girl, she makes out with him, "... occasionally," she says, nonchalantly, as if she's saying she likes to venture from 2% milk and get whole every now and then! Then, because her slutty skanky friend brags about losing her virginity, Rose has sex with the guy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT.


Sadly, this is one of the worst books I've ever read in the history of the universe, ever, in a billion trillion years. Ever. Which kind of sucks, because I had high hopes for this one, it being a wonderful premise. But by the end I was like...




Let us say a prayer before I leave: "Lord, I pray that books which fit into the same level of awfulness as this one never receive the gift of publication, and if they do...

-Aaron

3 comments:

Nicki Mann said...

That book sounds kind of similar to Like Water For Chocolate! Although I think in that one she was able to make others feel HER emotions through her cooking. All the same, though! :D

Aaron Morris said...

I've actually considered reading LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE! I first heard of it in ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, and the way Stephanie Perkins described it was beautiful. :)

Nicki Mann said...

It is beautiful... I didn't think I would like it until I was forced to read it for a Women And Creativity class in college. We also saw the movie, which was neat because it was n Spanish with subtitles so you have to really pay attention!

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