Review: Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

☆☆➹⁀☆ 4.5 stars ☆➹⁀☆☆

About the Book:

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?



My Thoughts:

Black Cake hooked me from the first paragraph. It intriguingly starts when Benny and Byron (B & B) meet for the first time in years to hear their mother’s last wishes. The mood is tense due in no small part to Benny’s estrangement from the family.

The chapters are short and crisp. Benny and Byron are the primary narrators of the story, but as the tale progresses, readers get the perspective of more and more characters who have somehow touched Benny and Byron’s lives. Author Charmaine Wilkerson makes her readers care about all the characters. These characters have endured varying degrees of hardship, and they have dealt with that hardship in different ways. As the characters learn of each other’s troubles, they are more able to accept the others’ behaviors and choices. There are strong messages of acceptance, understanding, and the enduring love of family and true friends in this engaging family drama.

About the Author: Charmaine Wilkerson is an American writer who has lived in the Caribbean and is based in Italy. She is a former journalist and recovered marathon runner whose award-winning short stories can be found in various UK and US anthologies and magazines. Black Cake is her first novel.

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