Black Cake
by Charmaine Wilkerson
Discussion Questions:
1. In Black Cake, Eleanor Bennett leaves behind a voice recording for her children, disclosing the story of her life. What was the most surprising part of her past for you? The saddest? The most interesting?

2. Secrets are a huge part of the novel. Why do you think Eleanor kept her story from her children for so long and only shared it posthumously? What do you think is more complicated: the secrets you keep or the secrets you share?

3. Eleanor wanted Mr. Mitch, Benny, and Byron to listen to the voice message she left behind when all together. Why do you think she specifically made this request? What would have been different if Benny and Byron had listened to everything separately?

4. What was your favorite part of the story? Favorite location and time period? The character who interested you the most?

5. Black cake was a Bennett family recipe, made for weddings, anniversaries, Christmas, and other special occasions. Do you have a traditional family recipe? What does it mean to you?

6. Benny recalls her first memory of Byron: "They are sitting on the couch, she is settled under her brother's arm, and Byron is reciting adventure stories to her from a book. His feet can already touch the floor." Discuss Benny and Byron's relationship. Why was it complicated? How had they grown apart after being so close? If you have siblings, did you understand the push and pull of this relationship?

7. Bert and Eleanor told Benny they "made sacrifices so that [she] could have the 'best'" the best being a prestigious education and a secure profession and love life. In short, Benny felt "the best" was what they envisioned for her rather than what she wanted for herself. Why do you think Bert and Eleanor disagreed with Benny's life choices? Do you think they were wrong to be so hard on her? Why or why not?

8. Eleanor didn't tell Bert about her firstborn daughter out of fear of what he might think, just as Benny was afraid to disclose details of her sexuality. Do you find this fear to be reasonable given all the love Benny and Eleanor receive from their family? Why or why not? How do you think Bert would have responded if Eleanor had told him the truth?

9. "The thing about identity. There's your family history, there's how you see yourself, then there's what others see in you." Do you find this statement to be true for the characters in the novel? Discuss.

10 Having come from China as a young boy, Johnny "Lin" Lyncook was still seen as a foreigner to many from the Islands, "even after he'd gone to school in the same town, run a business here, taken a wife here, and raised a child here." Why do you think that is? Did Lin not fit in because of his debts or would he always be an outsider, no matter how integrated into the community he became?

11. When Bert was too stubborn to apologize to Benny, Eleanor stayed by his side out of loyalty. Do you think she made the right decision? Why or why not?

12.After Bert's death, Eleanor has another chance at love. After the sweeping love story that brought Bert and Eleanor back together again, do you find it surprising that she dated someone else after his death? Why or why not?

13.Eleanor's greatest passion growing up was swimming, But, as life got in the way, she was forced to let it go. If she'd never run away, do you think Eleanor would have had a career similar to that of Etta Pringle? Were there regrets for giving up her passion, or do you find that she received greater ones in return?

14.Do you think Covey knew about Bunny's feelings for her? Were you surprised?

15.Forgiveness is a major theme: Eleanor struggles to forgive herself, Marble to forgive her parents, Benny to forgive her family, Byron to forgive Lin. Do you find any of the characters' actions in the book to be unforgivable? Why or why not?

Discussion Questions by Publisher

PbrHome - totes, wine bags, pillows for the book lover
More Reading Suggestions
Popular Books
If you have a passion for reading and, like most, have no time to find the right book, browse the most popular books trending right now. They are all page-turners, and they all let you escape from reality.

Popular Book-  The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
The Song of Achilles
By Madeline Miller
A tale of gods, kings, immortal fame, and the human heart, THE SONG OF ACHILLES is a dazzling literary feat that brilliantly reimagines Homer's enduring masterwork, The Iliad. An action-packed adventure, an epic love story, a marvelously...More

Popular Book-The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
by Taylor Jenkins Reid
In this entrancing novel "that speaks to the Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor in us all" (Kirkus Reviews), a legendary film actress reflects on her relentless rise to the top and the risks she took, the...More

Popular The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
The Silent Patient
by Alex Michaelides
The Silent Patient is a shocking psychological thriller of a woman's act of violence against her husband-and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive. Alicia Berenson's life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter...More

Popular Book- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
By Madeline Miller
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child-not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for ...More

Popular Book- The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
The Unhoneymooners
By Christina Lauren
AFor two sworn enemies, anything can happen during the Hawaiian trip of a lifetime-maybe even love-in this romantic comedy from the New York Times bestselling authors of Roomies. Olive Torres is used to being the unlucky ...More

Visit Our Blog
Browse A Little
PBR book reviews and Reading guides for book clubs
Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Pintrest Follow us on InstaGram
Visit out Etsy Shop
10 Books I Can't Stop Recommending
Bookish Gifts- Tote bags, Pillows and more
Best Historical Fiction