Black Cake, by Charmaine Wilkerson has been on my TBR for a while, so I was really excited to pick it up and finally give it a read. A beautiful debut novel.
Black Cake follows two adult siblings, Byron & Benny, who receive an inheritance from their late mother, Eleanore Bennett. Eleanor leaves behind a black cake (family recipe/tradition) and an audio recording for her children who haven’t spoken to each other in eight years. Eleanore’s audio message leaves Byron & Benny trying to understand who their mother was as they follow her story that spans across decades. Family secrets, unexpected revelations, and so much more.
I had such high hopes going into this one as most of the reviews were positively glowing and the premise itself sounded right up my alley (I love a good multi-generational family saga), however it fell a bit short of my expectations. This story was a bit of a slow read and seemed to drag in parts making it hard for me to stay engaged & connected. There was a lot going on and so much to digest…multiple POVs, a rotating cast of characters, alternating timelines from past to present…and while these are characteristics I usually love in a story, they made this one feel clumsy and confusing.
I absolutely loved the author’s depiction of island life & the focus on family & traditions (everyone loves a recipe that bridges generation gaps). Again, such a great premise! For me, there were just too many characters and I never really felt a connection with any of them. Combine that with a story that seemed to jump all over the place and at times was chronologically out of order, and it really felt a bit disjointed. I found myself losing interest several times and had to push myself to keep reading.
That said, this was a beautifully written story (that could’ve been a lot more poignant if it were shorter). There are SO many people who RAVE about this book, so maybe I’m just missing something. I really wish I would’ve loved this one like I’d hoped when I picked it up.
*NOTE: please check the trigger warnings on this one
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