Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Kitchen Daughter review

    I found this book, ironically, from the Foodie Reading Challenge of 2011. It was my turn to pick a book from my book club (and I love food), so I was very excited to find this challenge. And now I get to be a part of it!

   First I'll say I was blown away by the genre of this book. I was thinking food and fiction and it turned out to be mystical fantasy, with ghosts, people dying, grief, a little mystery AND recipes. Here is the summary:

From Publishers Weekly

An Asperger's-afflicted woman finds the keys to life and her family history in the kitchen after her parents die in McHenry's inspired if uneven debut. Ginny Selvaggio has lived a sheltered life: unable to maintain eye contact, make friends, or finish college due to her undiagnosed condition, the 26-year-old lives in her parents' home, surfing the Internet and perfecting recipes. But after her parents die, Ginny and her sister, Amanda, disagree about what to do with the family home—Amanda wants to sell, Ginny doesn't. As they bicker about what to do with the house and the problems caused by Ginny's awkwardness, Ginny comforts herself by cooking and soon learns that the dishes she prepares can conjure spirits. The ghosts, including her grandmother, leave clues about possible family secrets, as do a box of photographs Ginny discovers tucked away. McHenry's idea of writing an Asperger's narrator works well for the most part, but the supernatural touches undermine her admirable efforts and add a silly element to what is otherwise an intelligent and moving account of an intriguing heroine's belated battle to find herself.

   I liked that the narrator had Asperger's, and it takes you a little while to figure out what exactly it is that she has.The first thing you see that tips you off is she hides in the coat closet when she can't deal with the people anymore at her parents wake, and she often hides in her parents bedroom closet. Her parents had done a very good job of hiding from her that anything was wrong. She has a directness about her, a simpleness. When I think of her (Ginny) I think of a movie I recently watched where the mother has autism. She says, after hearing that her daughter had died, "I don't know why everyone keeps saying she is gone - she hasn't gone anywhere, she's just dead!"

Besides that fact (above), there are ghosts, a young man Ginny befriends, a housekeeper that is closer to the family than one would normally be, a sister whom she is in constant conflict with, and the fact that her parents had just died. Oh, and the recipes! I made the Ribollita soup for my book club, and I did it exactly as stated in the book. Yum! Was gone before the night was out. Who knew that kale could taste good?

One last thing is this blog that I found while researching the book. This guy has the author put music to the book, it's kind of interesting:

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