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Black Cake    by Charmaine Wilkerson order for
Black Cake
by Charmaine Wilkerson
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2022 (2022)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

Byron and Benny have a problem: their mother, recently deceased, has left behind a recording detailing her life before marriage. There they find out they have an older sister. Even their father did not know about her.

Black Cake shows us how the siblings come to terms with this important new information. The story meanders from a lovely Caribbean island, with family members both native and Chinese, to bustling London and Scotland, and finally, to southern California. People come and go and then come back again. Names are changed; there are hidden crimes and magnificent friendships. The joys of cooking compete with the thrills of ocean swimming.

The black cake is a delicious family confection prepared only for special occasions. There is no recipe; it must be learned from a loved one and eaten with love. Their mother urges them: 'Eat it only when you ready. You will know when that is.'

This multicultural family saga depicts many kinds of struggles, from gender to culture and class, which are very timely for us to read. But it is the characters' struggles with love, longing, and loss that tug at the heart. Author Wilkerson's first novel is bountiful in scope, yet quite satisfying.

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