Book Review: Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

Title: Black Cake

By: Charmaine Wilkerson

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 400

Release Date: February 1st, 2022

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Rating: ★★★★☆


Summary 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.


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Byron and Benny need to hug it out.

The intricate plot line in this book takes you from one country to the next, in a weaving story of love, loss and secrets. The author throws us readers straight into the drama of Byron and Benny as they struggle to come to terms with their mothers death all while reeling with their own relationship with each other that went bad many years before. Just that kind of family pain gives the characters depth right off the bat.

Eleanor, their mother, left voice recordings behind telling the tale of her life and the secret she has been carrying around her entire adult life of a long lost child she was tricked into giving up and her run from the law, when she was suspected of murdering her first husband. I do think he had it coming, but the way it went down... Damn...

I really enjoyed reading through Eleanor's life and the reactions of her children to her secrets. Wilkerson has an incredible writers voice and a wonderful way of weaving a tale that is worthy of the readers time.

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review. 

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