Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry

The Kitchen DaughterFrom Goodreads:
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.
This story is told from Ginny's POV who has Asperger's Syndrome. She was never diagnosed so her parents did the best that they knew how in bringing her up. Unfortunately her mother protected her so much that she became isolated and really didn't learn how to deal with people in society. Her father also tried to protect her from knowing that there was anything different about Ginny. Even so, she knows she is not like everyone else and found ways of coping with extreme anxiety by cooking. Even just examining recipes or ingredients in her head helps her cope. Her world is colored by her coping skill so we see the world though someone who has synesthesia. Voices, people, colors and things she wants to understand are all integrated with the essence of food. For example, she would always think of her sister as having a orange juice voice while her father had a tomato juice voice. These comparisons calmed her.

After the death of her parents she makes a personal recipe from her Nonna which brings her to Ginny with a cryptic message. Unfortunately as the scent of the food fades and so does Nonna. Ginny tries another recipe and brings another ghost but this one is very confusing. She experiments and brings other ghosts with messages to her but sometimes they don't have time for a complete message. As she tries to puzzle out the messages she is also determined to get her sister to understand that she isn't incapable of living alone and beginning a new life of her own making. In this journey Ginny finds more about herself than she ever thought possible. And in finding herself she begins to find the confidence to live her own life.

This book is a emotional book. You really feel for Ginny and at times become angry at her parents, and especially her sister, Amanda. You do understand that they were doing the best that they could and just wanted the best for Ginny. To protect Ginny. However, the old adage is true... the way to hell is paved with good intentions. You also root for Ginny as she goes on her adventure toward herself.

I give this book 4 1/2 stars and 1 hanky rating. Oh yes I cried, then I shook my fist at the book. I hate to cry, but I can't deny this was a good book (darn it!).

I was given this book by the publisher, Gallery and no compensation for my review was given.


  1. Good review. I am sure I would also cry and shake my fist. Some books are just that emotional and good

  2. Sounds like a tear jerker! What are you trying to do to my already overly emotional self?


  3. Thanks for your review of this book. As our nephew has autistic spectrum disorder I'm always interested in books that deal with this subject matter.

  4. Great Review..I didn't win one But buying The Kitchen Daughter..Because of you,,,Do I need another emotional book..This does sound very special..Thanks Susan. VTCozy

  5. Thanks for sharing your review! This one is on my wish list....

  6. @Blodeuedd... *sigh* I know.

    @Bookish... Hey, at least I warned you. ;)

    @...Petty... I think you'll like this one.

    @Susan... I know what you mean. This one isn't overly emotional, but there are parts...

    @Julie... Hope you get it!

  7. I haven't read a tear jerker for a while - UF doesn't tend go for the tears as much! Great review.

  8. A tear jerker? It sounds so good I might be tempted ! Great review!

  9. I love the whole premise of this book - cooking and food as a way to deal with emotions (sounds like my life!) mixed in with some supernatural elements and mysteries to boot!

  10. Wonderful review. Sounds like such a heartbreaking read but a good one. Might add this to my list :)

  11. Ha! 1 hanky rating, that's a good addition to the rating scale! This sounds like such a good book, not my normal read, but Ginny seems endearing and I definitely find myself wanting to know more about her:)

  12. It's strange how even the best intentions can have such a hard and painful impact.

    I think a lot of people associate food and tastes with a lot of things. It does offer a comfort.

    *hugs* Sorry about the tear shed, but it sounds like the emotions were worth it.

  13. I am so going to read this one though thank you for the hanky warning......

    I only read about 4 of those a year on purpose LOL This one will be the next one though :)

  14. Oh, I don't think I can read this one. I'm not good with emotional books. But sounds like a great read. :) Thank you!

  15. I like books that make me cry :D If a book is able to do that, that means I am emotionally connected to the characters. The Kitchen Daughter sounds wonderful!


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