On her ninth birthday, Rose discovers that she has a terrible affliction. She can taste the feelings of whomever made the meal. She first learns of this when tasting her lemon birthday cake as made by her mother. The frustration and disillusionment of her mother overwhelms young Rose, who doesn't know what to do about it. She is too young to articulate what she feels in the cake and her mother misunderstands her.
Rose's odd brother is five years older than Rose and avoids her and most of the world. Her father spends too much time at work and not enough time with the family. Rose begins to crave snacks made in factories because they lack any human interference. She doesn't know how to talk to anyone in her family and feels very alone. Her brother's friend George is the only nice person she meets. He finds her talent fascinating and always has time for her.
As Rose grows up, changes occur in the family, her mother becomes happy and Rose can taste why in her meals. Her brother becomes more and more removed from the world and soon Rose finds out that he too has a special talent. As readers we watch Rose grow from a child with a terrible torment to a young woman with a gift.
A dark, despairing but ever hopeful story.