Have you ever started reading a book based on it’s cover? Well, the cover is what made me pick this one up and read the description on the back. Cake sounded like an interesting read, a fiction about one woman stuck in an abusive relationship and another stuck in a lifestyle that becomes more difficult to maintain as time goes on.
Cake is told by four different female voices in alternating chapters. The reader first meets Keely, a focused body sculpting competitor obsessed with doing everything it takes to look perfect. Keely and her family live in a beautiful and large home with BMW’s in the garage and thousands of dollars worth of clothes and shoes in her closet. Next, we meet Michelle, a bartender married to a man, Ray, who thinks that women are there to serve him in any way he feels necessary. When Michelle displeases him – burnt toast, a funny look, not cleaning enough – he physically or sexually assaults her. Sometimes it’s just easier to do what is expected so that her daughter, Cassie, remains unharmed. But there is a white knight in shining armor that becomes interested in Michelle. Andrew is married to Keely, but becomes enamored with Michelle after a chase meeting at the bar she works at. Michelle begins to feel that she is worth something and people can see her. Andrew is loyal to his family, but is he really happy with self-centered and cold Keely? Cassie sees and appreciates everything her mother is enduring so that she can have opportunities, like college, and never end up like her mother. Cassie is determined to get her mother out of the hell she lives in, but sometimes you just can’t help those who do not want the help or feel that they are worth it. Cassie is undeterred and persistent with her mother, which is something that her girlfriend, Emerson, admires. Emerson is Keely’s attractive daughter who chose to study nursing instead of modeling, which Keely cannot understand. Emerson has only read about or heard about domestic violence; she has never experienced it living in the suburban bubble that her parents raised her in (not that it is a bad thing). The story takes the reader on a turbulent path toward Michelle’s escape and Keely’s personal growth, shedding light on the taboo topics of domestic violence, spousal rape, adultery, and economic gaps of upper and lower class.
I found this novel interesting and hard to put down. The characters are likeable and realistic. I would have liked to read a little bit more about Keely’s and Michelle’s past; maybe just a page more in the beginning with more detail about where they came from and their past so that the reader can understand their personalities earlier in the story. I would have also liked to have seen at least one chapter from Ray’s perspective. If domestic violence is the underlying issue in this novel, wouldn’t a chapter or two from the perspective of the abuser shed more light onto this issue? What is he thinking? What makes his temper flare? Why does he think that it is okay to beat down women? Is there a point in his life that the violent cycle could have been stopped?
Aside from some minor editing errors (typo and punctuation that I can’t get over), this is a great read. There are no boring parts to the story. The reader is whisked off into this suspenseful world right away and will be saying ‘I’ll just read one more chapter’ well past bedtime. I highly recommend picking up this book, and just because of it’s cover!