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Aimee Bender is the author of the novel An Invisible Sign of My Own and of the collections The Girl in the Flammable Skirt and Wilful Creatures. Her work has been widely anthologised and has been translated into ten languages. She lives in Los Angeles.
When Mona Gray is ten her father contracts a mysterious illness. His gradual withdrawal from everyday life marks a similar change in Mona, who removes herself from anything - or anyone - that might bring her happiness. Numbers provide a kind of solace, and help her make sense of the world: she counts words in her head, adds her steps, and multiplies people in the park against one another. When she becomes a maths teacher, Mona delights her pupils by encouraging them to find objects that take the form of numbers. But when 7-year-old Lisa appears with a zero that displays real turmoil, Mona knows that in order to help a person in pain, she needs to find a way to connect with the world she has been afraid of for so long.
October 2014 Guest Editor Cecelia Ahern on The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake... I love how Aimee Bender views the world. She has a quirky take on every day life and I find that inspiring. This is about a character who discovers that she has the magical gift of being able to taste peoples’ emotions in the food that they prepare. When she is nine years old she bites into a lemon cake and tastes her mother’s emotions. This is not a gift as her happy mother, tastes of desperation and sadness. The character learns that it can be heartbreaking to know the hidden thoughts and secrets of the people you love and she must learn how to detach herself from the problems of strangers. The Lovereading view... One of our Great Reads you may have missed in 2011. Young Rose, aged 9 when the story opens, finds that she can tell the mood of the person who cooked the food she is eating. It turns out that the rest of her family have some pretty weird traits too but it all seems quite natural – rather as The Time Traveler’s Wife settings seemed natural at the time of reading. So this is not for the literal minded, it’s magical realism beautifully written, a bit sad and very special. A Richard and Judy Autumn Read 2011.
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