Lemon by Cordelia Strube—The Review

Well, I finished the book I posted about yesterday. It's titled: Lemon and was written by Ryerson professor, Cordelia Strube.

It's a little ironic that I started reading Ecclesiates in my devotions this morning, the morning after I finished reading Strube's book. Far from being even remotely Christian, the story echoes Soloman's words as he begins to write: "'Meaningless, meaningless!' says the Teacher. 'Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless'" —Eccesiastes 1:2, NIV.

Lemon, or Limone, as she was named as a baby, is a teenager with more issues than a white rat has babies. Strube brilliantly develops her character. The girl doesn't know who her father is, has more "mothers" than she knows what to do with, all of whom have issues of their own. The book is a treatise on dysfunctionality at its highest level. There isn't a "well" person anywhere in sight.

Lemon had built up enough defenses behind which she hides to consider herself safe from the stupidity of everyone around her. She ridicules everything and everyone—a sure sign of her own dysfunctions. But within those dysfunctions she often takes the "high road" and acts with sometimes surprising maturity. She portrays a "I-don't-give-a ––––––––" attitude, but leaves open a chink in her protective armor. She volunteers in the children's cancer ward at the hospital. It's here we see that Lemon is not as hard as she makes herself out to be.

What I especially appreciated was Lemon's understanding of history. The book is full of references to the classics and to historical figures, and Lemon's analysis of their lives demonstrates once again that dysfunction is not a disease restricted to our generation. Did we doubt that man is depraved? If you have any illusions, reading Lemon will wipe them out forever.

As the story progresses, events happen that begin to show us that Lemon, despite her best efforts to rise above her friends and enemies, is no different than anyone else. The language and descriptions are raw—reader beware. But there is no doubt that Strube is a master at making the reader feel the emotion of her characters. I confess I got to a point where I thought: Stop whining, and get a life, Lemon! But the dead can't resurrect themselves.

Three-quarters of the way through, I wondered how Strube was going to end this. If I thought things couldn't get worse, I was wrong. When Lemon loses the two children at the hospital to whom her shriveled heart was actually open, she sinks to the lowest level imaginable of self-pity and self-interest. There is only one more level to go in her spiral downward—attempted suicide.

Here is the point at which I was most disappointed. It was as though the author didn't know what to do with her MC after the suicide attempt and she wimps out. Lemon resolves nothing and runs away. Strube created too strong a character in Lemon, and in the end the story failed Lemon as much as it failed the reader.

Lemon would not have been my choice of recreational reading. However it was a trip into a world that we, as believers, might hope to forget but need to remember if we are to bring the hope to a lost world that Lemon never found. 


  1. Thanks for the review of this, Lynda. I'm glad you did read it (though I likely will not be following your example LOL). Have a blessed day!


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