Thursday, April 21, 2011
Review: The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry
Pages: 288 pgs
Genre: Fiction/Food/Magical Realism
Challenges-100+ Reading Challenge, Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge
Buy this Book: Amazon, Powell's, Indiebound
Summary from publisher:
After the unexpected death of her parents, painfully shy and sheltered 26-year-old Ginny Selvaggio seeks comfort in cooking from family recipes. But the rich, peppery scent of her Nonna’s soup draws an unexpected visitor into the kitchen: the ghost of Nonna herself, dead for twenty years, who appears with a cryptic warning (“do no let her…”) before vanishing like steam from a cooling dish.
A haunted kitchen isn’t Ginny’s only challenge. Her domineering sister, Amanda, (aka “Demanda”) insists on selling their parents’ house, the only home Ginny has ever known. As she packs up her parents’ belongings, Ginny finds evidence of family secrets she isn’t sure how to unravel. She knows how to turn milk into cheese and cream into butter, but she doesn’t know why her mother hid a letter in the bedroom chimney, or the identity of the woman in her father’s photographs. The more she learns, the more she realizes the keys to these riddles lie with the dead, and there’s only one way to get answers: cook from dead people’s recipes, raise their ghosts, and ask them.
I am a foodie and a baker. So any book about food will be immediately attractive to me. This one wasn’t an exception especially because it was about the food and cooking traditions that I grew up with.
I found Ginny to be one of the most charming characters I’ve ever come across. Spending a couple of hours in her mind and learning the way she processes information was truly an experience. I was kind of amazed that she had never actually been diagnosed with Asperger’s. Her father was a doctor. Shouldn’t he have noticed? He probably did but did not want to admit something was “not normal” about his daughter.
I have not read many books about Asperger’s and I don’t know much beyond the basic knowledge about it. But I loved how much research went into this book and how accurately Asperger’s was portrayed. I also loved the element of magical realism. It kind of reminded me of Like Water For Chocolate. In a good way because I really hated that book. I thought it was brilliantly woven in with the ghosts appearing as their recipe was prepared. It really shows how food can really bring to life traditions and memories. It definitely makes me think much differently about my family’s recipes that go back generations.
*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.