Adult Book Review: Bitter in the Mouth

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I read this book for the 48 HBC challenge, and it is amazing.  I will keep this a spoiler-free review because this is one of those books that has a lot of secrets to reveal, and discovering them is part of what makes this book so good.

The book features beautifully (and in some cases, painfully) flawed, realistic characters.  Linda, the main character, has a rare condition called synesthesia.  It’s almost like wires have crossed in her brain, causing her to taste something when she hears words spoken aloud.  The story is told from Linda’s point of view, and therefore the reader gets to see the world from her unique perspective.  During dialogue, the author attaches the taste associated with each word so we can get an idea of how Linda processes conversation (for example, “Linda” is written “Lindamint” indicating that the taste of mint leaves accompanies the sound of her name).  As you can imagine, reading tastes at the end of most words in a conversation is a little jarring (especially due to the fact that the tastes seem to have little to do with the words).  However, I thought this was a brilliant way to explain Linda’s condition.  It must be jarring for her to have to process a random sequence of tastes everytime she has a simple interaction with someone.

The book also focuses on the topic of family and how we interact with the people who are closest to us.  This book reminded me of The Solace of Leaving Early.  The two books are very different, but both are well-written and focus on characters instead of plot.  By using a character who processes the world in such an interesting way, the book asks questions about the contradictions of human perception.  On the one hand, we all experience life in our own specific way, but on the other hand we all exist in the same world. I have to admit that it took me a while to finish this one, mostly because I wanted to savor the words on the page (no pun intended).

Recommended by:  my Mom 🙂

Recommended for:  Anyone who appreciates a good book focused on character development and family dynamics.

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Filed under 48 hour book challenge, book review

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