Book Reviews

Book Review: Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

Author: Charmaine Wilkerson
Publisher: Random House / Ballantine Books
Rating: 3 stars
Read: November 2022

The Synopsis

Upon her death, Eleanor Bennett leaves behind a voice recording for her two children, Byron and Benny. Through her recorded recollections, we learn about the parts of her life she never shared with anyone. Benny, Byron, and the reader are taken back to an island in the Caribbean in the 1960s and move through a tumultuous life full of adventure, heartbreak, and love.

The Review

I love a good family saga, and that’s precisely what this book is. Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson is full of heartbreak, miscommunication, family secrets, and serendipitous coincidences that bring characters together.

Eleanor’s black cake recipe is the common thread through it all. I enjoyed the use of food and family recipes as a plot device to move the story forward because I found it personally relatable. Family history, memories, and even trauma are held in food and cooking, and this book beautifully captured that.

Although I enjoyed this read, I did find it lacking towards the end.

After the significant revelations and secrets were revealed, the plot dragged on a bit. Benny and Byron’s inner monologues were repetitive and didn’t reveal as much growth as perhaps the author intended.

Also, I felt like certain connections and coincidences were a little *too* perfect. Sure, stars can align perfectly in real life, but that rarely happens. I’m a pessimist, so that’s definitely a “me” problem, but it nonetheless prevented me from getting fully immersed in the story. At least everything gets tied up neatly in the end.

Black Cake was, overall, an enjoyable read. Is it my favorite read of 2022? No, but I liked it!

I think it’s a great book club pick. It addresses issues like systemic racism, SA, and colonialism in a way that is easy for a wider audience of readers to digest and process.

Should You Read It?

You should read Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson if you:

– love emotional family sagas
– love other people’s juicy secrets
– enjoyed reading The Vanishing Half and Ask Again, Yes

The Book 

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