Aimee Bender‘s The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is a bittersweet piece of literature that is both filling and light, with a satisfying secret ingredient I’m not sure I can identify but am happy to consume.

Right before her ninth birthday, Rose discovers she can taste her mother’s despair in the lemon cake she made. Besides the shock of realizing she now has this strange ability to taste people’s true emotions in the food they create, Rose is surprised to learn how her mother really feels beneath her always sunny facade. Turns out everyone in her family has secrets—her genius brother who often seems to disappear into thin air, her father who has a strange aversion to hospitals—and Rose just isn’t prepared to know them. She goes out of her way to consume only factory-processed foods, e.g. snacks from the school vending machine, as she tries to navigate life while knowing—and feeling—too much about the people around her. The most important revelation comes when she finally eats a meal she cooks herself.

I feel as if I didn’t just read this book; I absorbed it. It washed over me in a lovely, melancholy way that left me moved but not sad. It deals with unrequited love, unfulfilled potential and imperfect family dynamics, but all are ingredients of life and I could only nod and think, It happens. Though it contains magical realism, many scenes and emotions ring very true. Bender has a way of stringing ordinary words together to form enchanting sentences that made me envy her skill. In Rose, she has a vulnerable yet resilient character who may have an extraordinary power but is absolutely relatable in her struggles to find her way and place in the world.

Thanks to Doubleday, I’m giving away two copies of this book. That’s right, it can be yours for the incredible price of FREE.

To enter:

  • be a subscriber or Twitter follower (tell me which—new subscribers/followers get 1 entry, current ones get 2, you get 3 if you tweet about this)
  • leave a comment about what emotions you’d taste if you had Rose’s power and ate your own cooking right now (I’d taste wanton lust for a beautiful house I just saw that’s way out of my price range)
  • have U.S. address, no P.O. Box, per Doubleday’s request

Giveaway ends Monday, July 19, 5 p.m. PST. Winners will be randomly chosen via and only announced here and on Twitter. I will not contact you personally so please check back to see if you win. Winners have 48 hours to claim the prize before alternate names are chosen.

Now, let’s hear how tasty your cooking is!



  • Reply
    July 12, 2010 at 6:09 am

    I’m a current follower on Twitter (darcy1956). My emotion would be happiness because it’s a gorgeous day and won’t be too hot!

  • Reply
    July 12, 2010 at 9:36 am

    Sweet, spicy, sexy.

  • Reply
    July 12, 2010 at 11:18 am

    But of course I am already a follower….gotta love the site and you are truly an awesome blogger/twitter person to know. ^_^ Tweeted your contest fun… AS far as the taste I would currently be experiencing…it’s be a mix of “needing-a-nap” combined with “let’s-DO-this” thus illustrating my current dilemma. To do or not to do…that is the question. (Though lunch time calls and reading is starting to call a bit louder). I wonder what type of food that would inspire…

    So let’s see that should give me 3 entries I believe.
    Thanks for the contest goodness….and happy reading! ^_^

  • Reply
    July 12, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Oh! I’ve been dying to read this book, and your review sounds so wonderful. I’m definitely a Twitter follower (The1stdaughter). And if I found out something, maybe it would be that I’d really rather like to fly away to Europe than get up and do the laundry today. :o)

    Thanks for hosting this fabulous giveaway!

  • Reply
    Audrey Smith
    July 12, 2010 at 11:31 am

    I am a new twitter follower (@desertlioness91)

    If I were to eat what I cooked right at this moment I would probably have a nice, smooth, easygoing and lazy taste. Possibly a td bit alchoholic even though I haven’t been drinking; woke up this morning feeling like I had a hangover. So, possibly a bit of bitterness as well.

    Your giveaway is great!

  • Reply
    July 12, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    thanks for the opportunity to read this book…my emotions would be full of joy…it’s summertime 🙂

  • Reply
    A Bookshelf Monstrosity
    July 12, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    Great giveaway of a wonderful sounding book. I love when reading a book is a completely transporting experience.

    +1 new twitter follower (@bookmonstrosity)
    +1 I tweeted:


    Oh, and I’d love to taste how I feel when it’s the first beautiful day in spring after a long-ass cold spell 🙂

  • Reply
    July 12, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    I would taste-feel relief that my kidlet is starting to feel better.

    I follow you via Twitter (JennJustReading) and I tweeted about your giveaway too (


  • Reply
    July 12, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    I’d taste….Excitement, anticipation, and happiness 😀
    This book looks soo interesting!

  • Reply
    Carol M
    July 12, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    I’ve been a subscriber for a long time.

    I would taste grateful for my loving family.

  • Reply
    Jenna Valdespino
    July 12, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    I’m a new subscriber. I would taste nerves!

    Thanks for the contest!

  • Reply
    Emma Pridemore
    July 12, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    I am a subscriber and the emotions I would sense are feeling pressured, anxiety, love creating, writing, painting, fear of getting old.


  • Reply
    July 13, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Hmm. I think it would taste like hope. It’s my middle name – plus, I’m generally a hopeful person.

    You know me – twitter, etc. Thanks for the contest. This book sounds interesting. The flavoring aspect reminds me of Like Water for Chocolate.

  • Reply
    July 13, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    I am a new twitter follower

    right now I would be feeling that I am very tired-but not too tired to stay up and read.

    thanks for this.

  • Reply
    July 15, 2010 at 7:49 am

    I’m a new follower/subscriber via email ( and Twitter (Amestir)

    Thank you for a great giveaway!

    Aimala127 AT gmail DOT com

  • Reply
    July 15, 2010 at 7:50 am

    I tweeted this giveaway:

    Twitter ID: Amestir

    Aimala127 AT gmail DOT com

  • Reply
    July 15, 2010 at 7:52 am

    The emotions I would taste if I could taste my own cooking right now would be excitement, anticipation and nervousness related to this giveaway but even more to a review of the chapters I read as part of a group reading, the first I have participated in!

    Thank you for a great giveaway!

    Aimala127 AT gmail DOT com

  • Reply
    July 15, 2010 at 8:38 am

    I’m a new follower on twitter as andiev107. If I could taste my feelings right now I’d probably taste like happiness, excitement and anxiety. I’m about to graduate college and go out into the real world which makes me feel all three at once.

  • Reply
    July 19, 2010 at 9:51 am

    I just loved this book. Aimee wrote a little blurb for On the Bookcase.

    No need to enter me in contest. I am a follower and will retweet.

    If anyone is in a book club, have your group read LEMON CAKE and enter to win a lemon cake to be deliver to your group via Doubleday.

  • Reply
    Angela Z
    July 19, 2010 at 10:32 am

    I am a new twitter follower (@wefreadom)
    and i tweeted!:
    Right now if i ate my own food and felt an emotion, it would be amusing happiness because i just got home from a camp that i work at and one of the kindergarten kids i worked with stuck an XMEN sticker onto my face(:

    angela z

  • Reply
    Mary (BookHounds)
    July 25, 2010 at 7:53 am

    I follow you on google reader.

    Hmm, what does bacon feel like, well just yummy. I guess that tastes like happy, since everything is better with bacon.

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