Black Cake, a review by Amy

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Black Cake
Charmaine Wilkerson
Ballantine Books
400 pages

“And what about a person’s life? How do you make a map of that? The borders people draw between themselves. The scars left along the ground of one’s heart.”

A lyrically written, stunningly beautiful story. Black Cake took root in my soul, and I cannot recommend it strongly enough. Part family saga, part mystery, this story is riveting and evocative.

My grandmama’s signature pound cake was full of tradition and steeped in love. It was as much a part of our family as my cousin. Some of our best times were had sitting around a table with a slice of that cake. Eleanor’s black cake is much the same to her family…

Sadly, Eleanor Bennet succumbed to illness and is gone. But she’s left behind two important things for her children, a recorded message and one last black cake, chock full of tradition and heritage. What the children do not know is that there is much more to their legacy than they’ve ever been told before. This is a story of family secrets, overcoming, and learning to accept the people you love in their truest form.

As with the ideal cake, this book is perfectly layered and utilizes the highest quality of ingredients. The storyline hooked me from the beginning with its complexities and fast pace. The short chapters and dual timeline made it impossible for me to put this book down.

But the character development is really where Wilkerson shines. These multifaceted and flawed characters are ones that I wanted to share a slice of cake with and get to know more intimately. As the book progresses, the cast of characters continues to build. But about ¾ of the way through the book, I realized that when a new characters appeared, it was a welcome and wanted surprise. The new additions felt fresh and timely rather than heavy and unnecessary.

As we get to know the Bennets, we also get a broad picture of the world in which they are living and the societal struggles that they face (old and new). While Wilkerson touches on important issues in this story, it is done as relevant slice of life, never heavy handed.

This near perfect book should be enjoyed by EVERYONE. It certainly will stay with me for a long time.

Thank you Charmaine Wilkerson, Ballantine Books, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review an advanced copy of this book.

Black Cake is currently available through BOTM.  Use this LINK to get your first book for $5.  It will be widely available on February 1.


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