The book's central character, Rose, realizes at the age of nine that she can "taste" the feelings of the people that make the food she eats. When I was explaining that to a friend, she mentioned that it was somewhat like Like Water for Chocolate, that it had the same premise. I readily agreed, but as I read, I realized that the two books are nothing alike. Where Like Water for Chocolatehad a definite mystical flavor, this book has a far more "practical" (for want of a better word) approach. The author uses the trait as a device to illustrate the central character's struggle with growing up, growing aware of the limitations of people in general, and her family in particular. With it she was able to talk about the loss of innocence and a child's difficulty in dealing with the fact that those around them, including parents, aren't perfect, without sounding trite or preachy. I found it interesting that the only person in Rose's life who was close to perfect, was a character who NEVER made Rose anything to eat, so we never got to see their inner feelings and thus their shortcomings.
Rose wasn't the only character in the book that intrigued me, either. Although the character of the mother was complex, I found Rose's brother and father much more interesting and the mother much more of a standard character. In addition, Grandma in Washington and Sherrine were great characters who helped tell us about life.
All in all, I definitely liked the way the author used her quirky characters to weave a great story about growing up and learning to deal with what life throws at you. In fact, I told myself that I was going to be more stingy and discerning with my 5 star rating this year, but this book just fits the bill. It was a draws me in, intrigues me, can't wait to see where it goes, WOW! book. Thanks to my friend Scoozer for bringing it to my attention. [