50 in 2012: Book Twenty Six

The Kitchen DaughterThe Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A book with so many layers I am struggling to articulate my review…

On the surface, it’s a book about the oddly peculiar Ginny Selvaggio and her struggle to pick up the pieces after the sudden and tragic death of her parents. Extraordinarily sheltered and shy, she rarely leaves her home, holing herself up in her closet to calm herself. Her older sister, Amanda tries to step up and act as caretaker and protector for her younger sister, a role previously played by their mother. Amanda constantly fears for Ginny’s safety.

As Ginny retreats to the kitchen, finding solace in the one thing that has always calmed her nerves: food, she discovers she has the ability to channel the spirit of  loved ones who have passed via the smell of their recipes. Each ghost helps Ginny piece together the scattered puzzle pieces of her life.

Ultimately, it is the ghost of her father who brings the most clarity and presents perhaps the most poignant parts of the novel: what is normal? Ginny learns that she and her father share more than she ever imagined…

Again, so many various layers, like one of Ginny’s main sources of calm: an onion, this book is likely best digested in more than one sitting. A story of the demands placed on family members when one has special needs, the devastating aftermath of tragic losses, and the normalcy in struggling to pick up all the pieces..


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