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This review has been salvaged from the Lost Audio Books of the South. You see, on my BookTrip travels I didn’t really keep great track of the books I was listening too, especially during my initial Southern route. When it first started I assumed I wouldn’t be listening to that many, so why write the titles down? Well, because I’m an idiot. That’d be a good reason. But I didn’t do that, so there are three or four audio books that I’m waiting to remember. And The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake has been recovered from my brain, so here we go.
Rose Edelstein is leading an ordinary childhood until she suddenly discovers that she can taste emotions. And the first emotion she tastes is the unflinching despair baked into her mother’s lemon cake. At only nine years of age, Rose’s unique ability to taste feelings in her food exposes her to adult emotional trauma that is usually well-hidden from the eyes of children. Rose then has to accept and deal with the knowledge that her ability provides her.
When The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake came out a couple years ago, it created a big stir for the imagination it showed by including synesthesia as a central plot point. Unfortunately, synesthesia has become more prominent in novels and manuscripts since then, so the magic was rather lost on me. It was interesting yes, but it didn’t knock me off my feet. So I needed something more…and I didn’t really get it.
The writing is pleasant but gets carried away rather often, bringing what plot there is to a screeching halt. Which, by the way, is the most problematic aspect of the novel. There just isn’t much going on in this story. Rose tries to deal with her weird superpower and then tries to deal with it a little more and then thinks about breaking the silence with her family and then deals with the after effects of it and….that’s basically what happens. It was one of the few audio books I listened to that didn’t help me keep awake on my drive.
I do think this book would be more enjoyable in its physical format rather than the audio. In my travels I found that non-fiction translates well into audio as do twisting plots and ferocious story lines. But literary fiction simply doesn’t have the same ring spoken aloud as it does in your own head. You don’t get to discover the words so much as have them presented to you, and it blunts the glittering edge of literary fiction’s best weapon. In short, you might want to read this book, but you don’t want to listen to it.