Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Review: The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry

ISBN #: 978-1-4391-9169-9 (dj)
Page Count: 272
Copyright: 2011

Book Summary:
(Taken from inside flaps of dust jacket)

After the unexpected death of her parents, shy and sheltered Ginny Selvaggio, a young woman with Asperger's syndrome, seeks comfort in the kitchen, away from her well-meaning but interfering relatives and her domineering sister, Amanda.  The methodical chopping, slicing, and stirring soothe her anxiety, and the rich aroma of ribollita, painstakingly recreated from her Italian grandmother's handwritten recipe, calms her senses.  But it also draws an unexpected visitor: the ghost of Nonna herself, bearing a cryptic warning in rough English, "Do no let her," before vanishing like steam from a cooling dish.

Faced with grief and uncertainty, Ginny turns to her recipe collection, and in doing so, discovers that she has the power to call forth the ghost of any dead person whose dish she prepares.  It's a gift she is certain she cannot share with her pragmatic sister but that ultimately leads her to an unexpected friendship and the possibility of a new life.

The mystery deepens when Ginny finds a letter hidden behind a loose fireplace brick and a series of strange black and white photographs - evidence of a family secret she can't untangle alone.  As Amanda pushes her to sell the only home she's ever known, Ginny decides that the key to her future lies within this provocative riddle from her parents' past.  But can she cook up a dish that will bring them back long enough to help her solve it?

Mandy's Review:


I love this cover ... of course, I'm also a foodie so that may have something to do with it.  But if you look at the cover as an art piece, you see the dark strength of the bag against the rich, vibrant redness of the peppers ... all of it set in front of a non-essential disappearing background causing the peppers to really catch the reader's eye ... it is simple, elegant and beautiful.

Plot/Main Characters

Brilliance.  It's not often I can say that about a debut author, but this time it fits.  This book was published for the first time this past April and I can already tell you that it will be a favorite on many people's reading list.

We have a main character who has a disease, but doesn't want to accept her disease.  She, Ginny, doesn't want to be labeled.  She defines her quirkiness as having a personality.  She is strong-willed, opinionated and has a strong desire to be allowed her independence.

Her sister, Amanda, is a heifer ... sorry, but that's the nicest thing I'll say about her.  I understood that she wanted to take care of Ginny, but she wouldn't even listen to what Ginny had to say.  She didn't even consider how Ginny felt about the housing situation.  She just automatically thought that because she was "normal" she knew better.  Oh, how I wanted to slap this lady.

Despite Amanda's overbearing personality, despite being lied to and tricked by Amanda, Ginny proves herself capable of living alone.  She proves that she has what it takes to master her disease when she needs to, when it's important for her to.


I fell in love with this story.  I love the addition of the family recipes at the beginning of several chapters.  I loved that the main character had Asperger's syndrome.  I loved Ginny's tenacity in dealing with her situation.  I loved the unusual twist of preparing a loved one's handwritten recipe in order to bring about the ghost of the dead.

If Jael McHenry continues her wonderful talent for writing in her next book, I will have a new favorite author to add to my list.  The Kitchen Daughter is a wonderful addition to any family library and I recommend it to all of you.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this book, it sound awesome! I am definitely adding this book to my wishlist.


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