Black Cake Novel

Read & Carry On: Black Cake

Official Book Synopsis

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 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?

My Review

Black Cake, a captivating book and most certainly deserves a prime spot on your reading list. Its vivid portrayal of life on the island during the 60s, seamlessly incorporating the immigrant experiences of the British and American West Indian/Caribbean communities, is mesmerizing.

This novel delves deeply into the intricacies of multi-generational family dynamics, unearthing the family secrets that lurk beneath the surface in almost every household. It brilliantly encapsulates how death often serves as the trigger for unveiling these secrets, leading to the often-painful journey towards truth.

The uniqueness of this Black Cake lies in its exploration of the collective histories of its diverse characters, all the while maintaining a gripping narrative. As a moving study of the immigrant experience, it sheds invaluable light on the challenges of assimilation, the struggle to maintain cultural identity, and the sacrifices one makes for the love of family.

It also explores the burden of expectations immigrant parents often place on their children, reflecting on the sacrifices they have made as part of their own immigrant journeys.

As usual, I listened to the audiobook edition of Black Cake. The performance by the two narrators was excellent. The contrast between the distinct Jamaican accent of one narrator and the neutrality of the other – who was able to add British accents and distinguishing between male and female adds depth to the characters, effectively breathing life into the words.

In conclusion, I strongly recommend immersing yourself in the compelling narrative of Black Cake, a novel that will undoubtedly leave you spellbound.

About the Author

Charmaine Wilkerson is from New York, has lived in Jamaica, and does much of her writing in Italy. Her debut novel Black Cake is a New York Times bestseller and a #ReadWithJenna book club pick. A screen series based on the novel has been developed for Hulu. Charmaine is a former US news and communication professional whose award-winning short fiction has appeared in various anthologies and magazines. 


Kerry-Ann Reid-Brown is Founder & host of Carry On Friends one of the first podcasts dedicated to the Caribbean American Experience. She is leading the way for Caribbean Podcast as the founder of Breadfruit Media, the first Caribbean podcast production company; and founder of the Caribbean Podcast Directory a place to discover podcasts by people of Caribbean Heritage.