Published by: Windmill Books (Feb 2011)
Pages: 292 (Paperback)
Source: Received from the Publisher
My Rating: 8/10
About the Book:
On the eve of her 9th birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents' attention, bites into her mother's homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother's emotions in the slice. She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother – her cheerful, can-do mother – tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes perilous. Anything can be revealed at any meal.
Rose’s gift forces her to confront the secret knowledge all families keep hidden – truths about her mother's life outside the home, her father's strange detachment and her brother's clash with the world. Yet as Rose grows up, she realises there are some secrets that even her taste buds cannot discern.
Take one dysfunctional family, sprinkle some magic dust, a few slices of depression, loneliness, sadness and mystery, stir in a pinch of family secrets and you’ll have the most unusual tale of a young girl with the most unusual gift of knowing how someone is feeling while they’re cooking a meal just by consuming it.
As I finished that first bite, as that first impression faded, I felt a subtle shift inside, an unexpected reaction.......it seemed that my mouth was also filling with the taste of smallness....of upset, tasting a distance I somehow knew was connected to my mother, tasting a crowded sense of her thinking.
For Rose, every food had a feeling, by the time she was 12 she could identify exactly where it was produced or grown. As she grew up she found it more palatable to eat food that was produced in a factory, preferably not by human hands.
Her brother Joseph was distant and uncommunicative (and he keeps disappearing and appearing out of nowhere!), her mother was raw with loneliness (but keeps it well hidden) and her father rarely spoke to her (and he has a secret of his own).
This is, basically, a family saga as we follow Rose through her early years, her jobs, her college life, her crush on Joseph’s friend, George, who is the only one who believes her, and, ultimately, as she comes to terms with her gift.
This is a wonderfully written story, full of oddball but memorable characters, which I felt enchanted by.
My favourite was the secretive and sad Joseph, I wanted to know more about him, how he was feeling, what he was thinking but the book focused mainly on Rose and the other characters were just on the periphery so I didn't feel as if all my questions were answered ......... but perhaps that was what the author intended .......... or perhaps it was just me not seeing the answers!
The writing reminded me of The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker