READING CHALLENGE ARC BOOK REVIEW: Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

Publication Date: February 1, 2022
Format: Kindle
Genre:  AA Fiction/historical fiction

Publisher: Ballantine Books 
400 pages
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover 


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.


I read this as part of my 2022 Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge. This was my pick for B. 

I received this book from the publisher through in exchange for an honest review. 

I loved this book! I can see why Oprah has already acquired the rights to this and is supposed to be creating a Hulu show based on it.  

After their mother dies Byron and Benny, estranged siblings, are brought together to listen to an audio that their mother insists they listen to together in the presence of her lawyer. In it she tells them the story of her past, and shares secrets that no one, not even her husband knew. 

This story is steeped in history, mysteries and racial injustices. It is perfectly blended, intriguing, and lyrical.  I was instantly captivated by the story and the intricacies of families. The petty grievances that keep people apart, the injustices we tolerate because we don't think we deserve better or don't want to rock the boat.  The violence against women and the reality of men taking away a woman's power over and over.  

I can't say enough about this book. As someone who grew up surrounded by Caribbean culture I can hear their lyrical voices, understand their traditions and was captured by the sounds of the sea. Do yourself a favor and add this to your reading list. 

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