Excerpt from I Was Told There'd Be Cake by Sloane Crosley, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

I Was Told There'd Be Cake

by Sloane Crosley

I Was Told There'd Be Cake
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback:
    Apr 2008, 240 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Lisa A. Goldstein

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


If I ever have kids, this is what I’m going to do with them: I am going to give birth to them on foreign soil—preferably the soil of someplace like Oostende or Antwerp—destinations that have the allure of being obscure, freezing, and impossibly cultured. These are places in which people are casually trilingual and everyone knows how to make good coffee and gourmet dinners at home without having to shop for specific ingredients. Everyone has hip European sneakers that effortlessly look like the exact pair you’ve been searching for your whole life. Everything is sweetened with honey and even the generic-brand Q-tips are aesthetically packaged. People die from old age or crimes of passion or because they fall off glaciers. All the women are either thin, thin and happy, fat and happy, or thin and miserable in a glamorous way. Somehow none of their Italian heels get caught in the fifteenth-century cobblestone. Ever.

This is where I want to raise my children—until the age of, say, ten, when I’ll cruelly rip them out of the stream where they’re fly-fishing with their other lederhosened friends and move them to someplace like Lansdale, Pennsylvania. There, they can be not only the cool new kid, but also the Belgian kid. And none of that Toblerone-eating, Tintin-reading, tulip-growing crap. I want them to be obscurely, freezingly, impossibly Belgian. I want them to be fluent in Flemish and to pronounce “Antwerpen” with a hint of “vh” embedded in the “w.”

Why go through all the trouble of giving a ten-year-old an existential heart attack by applying culture shocks like they were nipple clamps? Because, ten-year-olds of the world, you shouldn’t believe what your teachers tell you about the beauty and specialness and uniqueness of you. Or, believe it, little snowflake, but know it won’t make a bit of difference until after puberty. It’s Newton’s lost law: anything that makes you unique later will get your chocolate milk stolen and your eye blackened as a kid. Won’t it, Sebastian? Oh, yes, it will, my little Mandarin Chinese–learning, Poe-reciting, high-top-wearing friend. God bless you, wherever you are.

Uniqueness is wasted on youth. Like a fine wine or a solid flossing habit, you’ll be grateful for it when you’re older. Naturally, being born in a foreign country is not the only coolness savings bond out there, but it is an automatic vehicle into self-possession if there are no other cars on the road. Maybe you don’t come from the mansion on the hill or the worst shack at the foot of it. Maybe you’re not religious or a spelling bee prodigy. Maybe you’re not the youngest of nine kids or the child of a B-list movie star. Oh, but imagine if you had a South African accent. At least foreign citizenship is something you can point to and say, “This is where I come from. This is who I am.” I almost had it myself.

A sophomore in high school, I was successfully plodding through my suburban existence when my mother called me into the living room and told me we were moving to Sydney, Australia. For a year my father had been working at a division of his company in Sydney, communicating with us largely via fax. Then one day we had visas and passports and private schools picked out. I was nervous about leaving my life—change was one thing, but this much change smacked of the Witness Protection Program. I expressed concern about finishing high school at an institution paved in gingham, a place that didn’t involve gum under the desks or drug paraphernalia in the halls. What kind of environment was that for a child?

“Everyone in Australia goes to private school,” my father explained, a statistic that still makes little to no sense.

But soon Australian realtors were calling the house. I tried to talk to them for as long as they’d let me before I passed the phone over to my mother. They all sounded wonderfully like Olivia Newton-John. Had a pervert called up and faked an accent, I would have told them the truth—that my mother wasn’t home—instead of employing the classic “She’s in the shower.” (Kids across the country have grown up accepting the idea that no one can harm your family if at least one of its adult members is in the shower. No one knows why.)

  • 1
  • 2

Excerpted from I Was Told There'd Be Cake by Sloane Crosley. Copyright © 2008 by Sloane Crosley. Excerpted by permission of Riverhead Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Of Arms and Artists
    Of Arms and Artists
    by Paul Staiti
    In the late eighteenth-century, the United States of America was still an emerging country, ...
  • Book Jacket: So Say the Fallen
    So Say the Fallen
    by Stuart Neville
    Noir crime fiction – Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett anyone? – is an American invention...
  • Book Jacket: The Mothers
    The Mothers
    by Brit Bennett
    Every now and then the publishing industry gushes about a young author destined to become the next ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Les Parisiennes
    by Anne Sebba

    How the women of Paris lived, loved, and died under Nazi occupation.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    News of the World
    by Paulette Jiles

    Exquisitely rendered and morally complex--a brilliant work of historical fiction.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Cruel Beautiful World
    by Caroline Leavitt

    A fast moving page-turner about the naiveté of youth and the malignity of power.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.