The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I really wanted to love this book. SO MUCH. Because of great reviews by folks that I really respect and admire. Because of a premise that seemed so unique and interesting. Because of that amazing cover art.
Unfortunately, I didn't love it. I liked it but not as much as I'd hoped. I really struggled with whether or not this book deserved two or three stars. I ultimately decided on 3 but it was really more like a two and a half.
I should preface my thoughts with the fact that I often struggle with magical realism unless its written by Sarah Addison Allen (who I seem to adore!). And this novel just didn't do it for me. But, it wasn't because of the magical realism. I actually think that was very well done in this novel. I enjoyed that aspect of the story. I know that a lot of people felt the novel was 'weird' and I think the magical realism accounts for some of that. But, the writing style and pacing only contributed to that sense of weird for me. I liked the actual magical qualities of the story but the rest just didn't do anything for me as a reader. At all.
I was bothered by the writing style, the somberness, and the pacing of the novel. I am not sure that I'm going to be able to capture my concerns and what I didn't like very well because it was more of a feeling than something concrete. I just didn't enjoy the reading of this book. I kept asking myself why I cared to finish it. I just didn't care enough about it to want to keep reading. Yet, the book was VERY readable which is why I stuck with it.
There were times when I thought the writing was very good but most of it just felt disjointed in some way to me. I just felt that the story, the characters and the sense of place were all jumbled up in some way for me. I never really connected to any of it. It felt like something otherworldly with no connection to me as a reader or even to the characters that I was reading about. This ultimately made me enjoy the reading of the story much less than I'd hoped.
In the end, I was so disappointed with this book. The premise was so clever and intriguing but I just didn't feel like it was executed very well. I have very mixed feelings about recommending this book so I'm going to recommend with a lot of caution. Although not a bad book, this is not even remotely one of my favorites. However, some of my bookish friends who I respect have loved the book. So, because of that, you might want to give it a try!
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