Allow me to preface this review with the following: I have not read Bender’s ‘The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake’ and I had no preconceptions or expectations before reading this book. It was one of those quick grabs at the local library – pretty cover, sweet title, you know the drill.
In any event, it was quite an intriguing read, quirky in a way. The protagonist, Mona Gray, is tormented by numbers. She is clearly gifted in many ways, but it has manifested in an anxiety and a lack of social graces which causes her great distress and leads to a general sense of dysfunction.
Mona’s family seems to be equally dysfunctional and this only serves to add to the overall quirkiness of the story.
Essentially, Mona lives her life in fear. We never really discover what she is afraid of, but it has something to do with the unknown, things that she cannot control. It is this fear which grips her and makes life unbearable.
There were several unbelievable aspects to this tale: I didn’t quite believe that a school would employ someone who wasn’t a teacher simply because they had a gift with numbers (at least I hope they wouldn’t) and I didn’t buy the fact that a store owner would simply leave his shop open and take a lengthy vacation, allowing customers to help themselves to his wares. These were only two of the glaring unbelievables in the story. But in some way that added to the unusual nature of this text and didn’t grate against me too significantly.
Overall, I enjoyed the book in a loose kind of way. I wasn’t totally immersed, but it was a nice filler.