From BooklistEating the cake her mother has prepared for her ninth birthday, Rose Edelstein discovers she has a gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the food she prepares. Soon, every bite Rose takes is filled with feelings—not just her mother’s but those of other people as well—and what might have been a gift becomes a burden and then, perhaps, a curse. Because this is a novel rooted in family, Rose will learn that she is not the only Edelstein with a peculiar gift or burden. How she and others learn to cope—or not, as the case may be—is the small, sad story Rose shares. Bender’s earlier work has often been described as surrealistic; however, this novel seems more informed by a kind of magical realism that struggles with transformation and sometimes—fleetingly—succeeds, as in the case of the novel’s vividly realized Los Angeles setting. But the effect soon fades, and the reader is left only with a lingering feeling of emptiness and the realization that sadness tastes a lot like bitterness. --Michael Cart
From: Nancy's Musings *WARNING* (may contain spoilers)
I absolutely loved this book. Another new genre for me but the story told was far deeper a few hours after I read the last word. As my brain deconstructed each character, I found myself in each of them. I also decided that each person represented life coping skills. Each character has his/her own story to tell. They have their own tragedies and their own beauty.
Here's my breakdown:
Rose's father: Logical, factual attorney who makes mental checklists. Get married. Check. Graduate from college. Check. Have 2.6 children. Check. Work hard. Check. His coping mechanism is to avoid. He will avoid anything that might give him discomfort or growth. He'd much rather work from a checklist than delve into emotion or possibilities.
Rose's mother: Delicate, attractive, self deprecating, flaky, weird. This is a woman who firmly believes in magic and signs. She creates her own reality. She is incredibly depressed and empty. She fills her emptiness with stories that she wants to believe.
Brother Joseph: Coping mechanism is to disappear and no longer exist.
Rose: Can't decide how to cope with her gift/curse/life. Seeks help from other dysfunctional people in her life but her family can't see her pain at the time. She reacts with anger by plowing through. She then quietly becomes fatalistic and simply exists without joy. Rose finally seeks to accept, understand and embrace.
George: Although peripheral to the family, George is Rose's reset button. George is centered and, when asked, he will help Rose to anchor herself in order to go on. George is critical to Rose's choices even as he moves forward with his own life.
If you want this book for your very own, leave me a comment. I have two copies to give. This would be an excellent book for a book club. Another book I want to discuss with others. Allison, my dear friend, you are going to borrow this book so you and I can talk about something besides kids!
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Contest ends July 26, 2010
Thanks to Doubleday for sponsoring this contest.