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InstaReview: Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

"More people's lives have been shaped by violence than we like to think. And more people's lives have been shaped by silence than we think."

Black Cake is the story of Benny and Byron, two estranged children that are brought together when their mother passes and leaves instructions for them to listen to an audio recording. The recording reveals family secrets and uncovers a history unbeknownst to the children. The novel’s timeline alternates between present day, when the family became estranged, and the more distant past where the recording’s story takes place. This debut novel spans generations, continents, social issues, and character perspectives - that is to say, it tries to jam a lot into one book. This was an OWC Book Club selection and our opinions ranged from like to dislike. We wouldn’t say the book was polarizing, because most impressions were lukewarm. It was difficult to look past the excessive amount of coincidences the author created to make the story align. Additionally, we felt like there was a “social issues check list” that was trying to be met, but ideas were not fleshed out and rather superficial. However, we did enjoy the different character perspectives and cultural perspectives - especially the origins of Black Cake. If you can suspend disbelief when reading this story, perhaps you will find it more enjoyable than we did.


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