Aimee Bender has crystallized the most enchanting elements of magical realism into a contemporary, heartbreaking narrative in her new novel The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. When nine year old Rose discovers that she can taste in her food the concealed emotions of whoever prepared it, she is initiated more intensely into the world of denial and familial tension than any young observer before her.  Her gift becomes a tortuous curse as she grows up and bears the burden of humanity’s hidden pain with every bite, excused not from the exhaustion of immigrant strawberry pickers nor the resentment and apathy of a teenaged delinquent pastry chef.  Bender’s ability to appeal to the delicacies of human emotion keeps this tale on the more accessible side of fantasy, echoing in a fresh voice the greats of magical realism from decades ago. –Joanna