My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Time taken to read - 6 days
Pages - 400
Publisher - Michael Joseph Books
Source - Review copy
Blurb from Goodreads
We can't choose what we inherit. But can we choose who we become?
In present-day California, Eleanor Bennett's death leaves behind a puzzling inheritance for her two children, Byron and Benny: a traditional Caribbean black cake, made from a family recipe with a long history, and a voice recording. In her message, Eleanor shares a tumultuous story about a headstrong young swimmer who escapes her island home under suspicion of murder. The heartbreaking tale Eleanor unfolds, the secrets she still holds back, and the mystery of a long-lost child, challenge everything the siblings thought they knew about their lineage, and themselves.
Can Byron and Benny reclaim their once-close relationship, piece together Eleanor's true history, and fulfill her final request to "share the black cake when the time is right"? Will their mother's revelations bring them back together or leave them feeling more lost than ever?
Charmaine Wilkerson's debut novel is a story of how the inheritance of betrayals, secrets, memories, and even names, can shape relationships and history. Deeply evocative and beautifully written, Black Cake is an extraordinary journey through the life of a family changed forever by the choices of its matriarch.
When Eleanor dies she leaves her children, Byron and Benny, a recording that plays about eight hours long. Her son and daughter haven't spoken in years but come together, as she knew they would, after she passes. Eleanor was a unique lady and her children are about to find out just how strong, resilient and secretive she was!
The book bounces around a fair bit, then and now, between different characters, not just Eleanor but many people who played or influenced largely in her life. It is a strong debut novel that examines how unfair life can be but how survival, strength, friendship and love can get you through.
The characters have their own woes and things that have happened or happening in their lives that shape who they are or their journeys. We learn about the Black Cake, culture, heritage and how important identity is and the cost some people face to survive and what they lose in the process.
There is a lot of hurt, love, loss, lies, secrets and large centering around decisions and the reach/impact they have not only on the person making them but those left behind. The book chews off a lot and I think the author does well dealing with many of them, I enjoyed a lot about this book but I got a bit lost in the shifts between people, places and time. I could follow it but it was a lot so it took a bit to get through as I had to keep checking xyz, 3.5/5 for me. I liked it though so will keep an eye out for the authors next offering!