Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Kitchen Daugher- Review

Title:  The Kitchen Daughter
Author:  Jael McHenry
Source: Good ol' library

Goodreads Summary:

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.

My thoughts:

I thought this book was a very calm and gentle book, despite the massive, sad tragedies that occur within its pages.  Ginny has Aspergers, and sees and feels the world in a way that is different from most people.  She doesn't like to be touched, and tries to understand the emotions of others.  The book begins with the death of her parents, which rocks her world.  They were her touchstones, they were her guides in a world that was difficult for her to manuever in certain ways.  She is left with alone, with just her sister Amanda, who in return has a difficult time understanding Ginny.

Ginny finds comfort and solace in cooking, and uses food as a coping mechanism when the world gets too messy for, and retreats to  memories of cooking, the subtle flavors and nuances that certain foods have.  She comforts herself with her Nonna's Ribollita, and the smell of this dish draws the ghost of her grandmother to her.  Her Nonna dissipates as the scent of the Ribollita does, and leaves Ginny with a cryptic message: "Do no let her..."; Ginny figures the "her" is Amanda, who is trying to sell the house. 

She is befriended by her cleaning lady Gert, who guides her from her home and introduces her to people, convincing Ginny to use her cooking talents to prepare meals for those at her temple who are mourning. 

Ginny continues to draw the ghost of her family to her, as well as to Gert's son David, who had a very sad, surprising plot twist! She also has many moments with her sister, working through their confusion to come to a place they both agree on., as Ginny and she work on their grief.

I really enjoyed this book, and I am going to add a few of the recipes to my list! Especially the Ribollita.

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