The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
When Rose Eidelstein turned nine, she discovered she had a certain talent - she was able to taste feelings in food. Rose would eat a sandwich shared with her by one of her classmates and taste her friend's depression; she could eat a bakery cookie and feel the rage the cook had experienced. Food began to scare Rose, to the point where she would subsist mainly on vending machine snacks and junk food - things made in a factory, which meant that they had no feelings in them. Over the years, Rose learned to hone her skill and was able to discern between a milk cow in Fresno versus one from San Diego. Rose never shared the knowledge of her gift with her family, not even when she discovered a secret her mother was hiding from all of them. Rose later learns that she isn't the only one in her family with special gift.
Well that was disappointing! Perhaps I have just missed some underlying hidden meanings? Or subtle nuances? This novel didn't take long to read - could be done in one day, one sitting if you have the time to dedicate to it... although I would highly suggest spending that time reading something better. I never like giving negative reviews to novels, and usually I am able to find a positive thing to say...this is an exception. Although the idea of the story has promise, the delivery fell short. By far. One of the main things I disliked was the lack of quotation marks to separate speech from narrative. The spoken portions weren't even italicized or made distinct in any way, so at times it became difficult to understand what was spoken versus what was thought by any particular character, and what was simply narrative.
I almost feel let down by this novel. I had read the overview on the cover and was immediately drawn to read the book - a mix of fiction with a bit of fantasy. I never ended up feeling drawn to any of the characters, and there were some parts (ie: Joseph's gift) that I didn't fully understand even once I had finished reading the book. Again, perhaps I missed subtle clues and hints along the way, but it's just as likely that I missed something obvious in my hurry to finish the book since I wasn't very invested in it from the get-go. Unfortunately this novel left me with a bad taste in my mouth, and I won't be rushing out to read other works by this author, and it goes without saying that I won't be recommending this book at all.