by Aimee Bender
Where do people come up with these ideas? I’ll admit that a novel that includes interesting references to cakes (recipes are a bonus) will catch my attention pretty quick. One with lemon-cake in the title wins me hands down (I love lemon cake!).
This story centres on the extraordinary talent of Rose Edelstein who grows up with the ability to sense a person’s emotional state through the food they’ve cooked. She notices it first with her mother who is hiding a deep unhappiness and dissatisfaction with her life. It doesn’t stop there though. She eventually teaches herself to distinguish ingredients, their source, and the emotion of the person who grew or picked the product separately from the person cooking. It makes for a roller-coaster adolescence noted by visits to psychiatrists and counsellors – she won’t eat much and has to deal with the emotional fall-out when she does. She lives every day knowing the truth of her parent’s happiness and failings. Yet, she tells only her brother and her brother’s friend about what is happening to her.
Her brother has his own issues, and as it turns out, his own odd abilities. Her father too had once been afflicted and an older uncle…. A hidden family trait that could have made life much easier for sister and brother if only it hadn’t been so hidden.
In the end, Rose must learn to live with her ability, herself and her knowledge, and accept her family for who they are as well.
For your cooking pleasure…