Friday, December 16, 2011

Charlene Reviews: The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry

ISBN #: 1439191697
Page Count: 288
Copyright: 2011
Publisher: Gallery


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.

Charlene's Review:

Ginny Selvaggio has lived a life sheltered by her parents. Her quirky behavior has always been described as having a "personality," and it isn't until her parents accidental death that Ginny uncovers the secrets of her family, and herself. Withdrawing from the world around her and turning to her family's beloved recipes, Ginny discovers she can bring the deceased back to visit, one last time, if she follows their recipe to the letter. She only has the time it takes for the aroma to dissipate, to seek the answers she needs most. Unfortunately, the deceased have secrets of their own that Ginny must now come to understand.

The Kitchen Daughter is a story about grief, relationships, and the search for self. Ginny must face the loss of her home, and all the comfort she knows, if she allows her sister to sell the family home. Her sister, believing that Ginny is not capable of living alone, sends Ginny to a psychiatrist who offers a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism. While exposing the intricacies of a developmental disorder, Ms. McHenry balances the scale with Gert, the housekeeper that seems to know, and accept Ginny unconditionally. An emotionally intriguing book, filled with great insight into the life of a misunderstood soul, The Kitchen Daughter also takes you through an unexpected twist that breaks your heart.

Ms. McHenry writes sensitively about an often painful subject, and leaves the reader with great hope for all the Ginny's of the world.

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