Thursday, April 14, 2011

review: the kitchen daughter by jael mchenry

In The Kitchen Daughter, Ginny discovers, entirely by accident, she can contact the dead by making one of their handwritten recipes. Her ghostly visit is from one of her grandmothers shortly after the funeral of Ginny’s parents who died of carbon monoxide poisoning while on vacation. Nonna tells her (in “rough English”), “Do no let her.” The question is who isn’t Ginny supposed to let do what? The obvious answer seems to be that Ginny shouldn’t let her sister Amanda sell the house. But Ginny has “a personality,” which seems to be undiagnosed Asperger’s (despite their father being a doctor) and Amanda has no intention of allowing Ginny to live in such a big house all on her own. Ginny fights Amanda every step of the way, all the while seeking solace in the kitchen. Most chapters have a recipe at the beginning which has significance for the chapter. It wasn’t until I began reading that I realized why the recipes appeared in different formats; this is an excellent little piece of the book. The Kitchen Daughter is a touching look at family, grief, and a still misunderstood syndrome.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Gallery Books.

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