Pinterest tracking pixel
If you are having difficulty navigating this website please contact us at accessibility@bookofthemonth.com or 1-833-959-2686.
Oops! The page didn’t load right. Please refresh and try again.
  • GIFTS
  • SWITCH TO BOOKCLUBS
  • Bookclubs IconBookclubs
Already a member? Sign in.
Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson
Contemporary fiction

Black Cake

Debut
We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Charmaine Wilkerson, on your first book!
Early Release
This is an early release that's only available to our members—the rest of the world has to wait 'til next month to read it.

by Charmaine Wilkerson

Quick take

Brimming with wisdom, a moving story of two siblings who wend their way to reconciliation after losing their mother.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Emotional

    Emotional

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FamilyDrama

    Family drama

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Immigration

    Immigration

Why I love it

Jerrod MacFarlane
BOTM Editorial Team

Sometimes a novelist introduces me to a character so vibrant and unique that encountering a mere slice of their life will not do. Instead as a reader I practically beg for every detail of their life—beginning to end. Such is the case with Black Cake, a book so moving and skillfully constructed, it’s easy to forget that it is Charmaine Wilkerson’s debut.

Black Cake at its core is the story of Eleanor Bennett as related to her children, estranged siblings Byron and Benny. But Eleanor’s story comes in a strange package: a voice recording, left to her children upon her death. As the tape plays, what unfolds is the story of an extraordinary life. Island dreams and family rupture. Lost friendship and found identity. As Byron and Benny hear their mother’s tales for the first time, they discover not only who Eleanor was, but how they’ve come to their current places in the world—and how they might thaw the coldness that had grown between them.

I was enchanted from the very first page by this intergenerational novel of family, friendship, and love. With a sure hand and great care, this big-hearted novel outlines the many ways we can come unglued from those we hold dearest. But also, if we are lucky, find our way back to each other.

Read less

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 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.

Read less

Preview

Get an early look from the first pages of Black Cake.

Read a sample →

Member thoughts

All (10896)
All (10896)
Love (6717)
Like (3710)
Dislike (469)
10975 ratings
  • 61% Love
  • 34% Like
  • 4% Dislike
    Contemporary fiction
    • Once There Were Wolves
    • The Bad Muslim Discount
    • Black Cake
    • If Only I Could Tell You
    • What Comes After
    • Olga Dies Dreaming
    • The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes
    • How Lucky
    • Last Summer at the Golden Hotel
    • Monster in the Middle
    • Nine Perfect Strangers
    • My Dark Vanessa
    • The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany
    • The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes
    • Honey Girl
    • In Every Mirror She's Black
    • Beautiful World, Where Are You
    • Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband?
    • Sankofa
    • The Unsinkable Greta James
    • The Verifiers
    • One Italian Summer
    • The Love of My Life
    • Beyond the Point
    • Good Company
    • Behold the Dreamers
    • True Story
    • This Close to Okay
    • When We Were Vikings
    • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
    • Queenie
    • In a Book Club Far Away
    • What Happens in Paradise
    • The Other Black Girl
    • The Identicals
    • The Kindest Lie
    • Happy & You Know It
    • That's What Frenemies Are For
    • Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk
    • Ties That Tether
    • Goodbye, Paris
    • The Prophets
    • Big Summer
    • How Not to Die Alone
    • The Mothers
    • The Last Story of Mina Lee
    • The Chicken Sisters
    • The Girl with the Louding Voice
    • The Music Shop
    • Where'd You Go, Bernadette?
    • Modern Lovers
    • The Comeback
    • Dear Edward
    • Little Fires Everywhere
    • White Ivy
    • A Woman Is No Man
    • Friends and Strangers
    • Startup
    • Troubles in Paradise
    • Winter in Paradise
    • All Adults Here
    • The Reckless Oath We Made
    • Impostor Syndrome
    • All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
    • Anxious People
    • Other People's Houses
    • The Removed
    • A Good Neighborhood
    • Apples Never Fall