I am not ashamed to admit that I picked this book up because of it's beautiful cover. I got an ARC of Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson from one of my favorite independent bookstores, Subtext Books, located in St Paul, MN. Pro tip: Your local indie bookstore gets more free books from publishers than they know what to do with. So next time you visit and make a purchase, ask if you can browse their ARC stash and they just may let you take some home....for FREE. I made this discovery a couple of years ago and it is a complete joy to dig through their closet stuffed to the brim with ARCs. But I digress....why are we here again? Oh, that's right, you are waiting on my review of the debut novel, Black Cake, out Feb 1.
Black Cake is a generational story about two estranged siblings, Benny and Byron, who come together to hear their late mother's last wishes. They discover that the mother they thought they knew had a hidden past. One that centers around her famous Caribbean black cake. Will Byron and Benny set aside their differences to honor their mother's dying wish?
This year is already off to a killer start with new releases now that I have Black Cake under my belt. This multi-generational story, told from multiple point of views and dual timelines blew me away. It is clear from the beginning that Benny and Byron have a strained relationship, but the reader does not know why until the story progresses. They come together to listen to a recording their mother left them before she passed away. The recording contains their mother's life story, which is much different than what they grew up knowing. They learn that what their thought their life was based on, really isn't reality, but they uncover so much more about their mother and her culture.
Black Cake centers around, just that, black cake. It is a traditional Caribbean dessert with a recipe that was passed down generations. It plays a pivotal role in the story and Byron and Benny's legacy centers around it. I absolutely loved this element of the story. Personally, I am a huge foodie, so when a plotline centers around food, I am all for it.
This story is beautiful and heartbreaking. It will tug at your heartstrings and make you feel all the emotions. I am a huge fan of family stories that delve into who parents were before they were parents to their children. It is a theme I have come to love in a novel and seek out when I am perusing what to read next. Black Cake brings this element to life, as well as transports the reader from an unnamed island in the Caribbean, to England, to New York, to California.
Pick up this 2022 new release and you will not be disappointed!
Content warnings: forced marriage, rape, forced adoption, death of a loved one, homophobia
Read if you enjoyed:
These Ghosts are Family by Maisy Card