Customer Reviews for

The Kitchen Daughter

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Sort by: Showing all of 14 review with 5 star rating   See All Ratings
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  • Posted August 3, 2011

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    Fantastic, Unique Food-Lit

    This book was on my TBR wishlist so I was thrilled when the publicist offered it up for review.  This is not your typical food-lit.  It's not about romance, it about families and grieving.  I was a little concerned that this book would be too serious for me (There's a reason I don't read Jodi Picoult books) but I needn't have worried.  It's a wonderful story that incorporates magical realism, food, and contemporary issues. 

    I love that Jael McHenry gave her main character, Ginny, Asperger's.   So often these are things we read about and not read of. The world is a difficult place for Ginny to be to begin with, and now, with the death of her parents, Ginny's world has shrunk.  It is interesting to me that Ginny has never been diagnosed. Yes, it never put a label on her or limitations, but it also means she never got ant extra help at school or learning how to cope.   Ginny's book of normal reminds her that there are all different kinds of 'normal', but perhaps with a name for her symptoms, instead of telling people she 'has a personality', she could have been more focused on defining what's normal for her. It could have helped her finish college...  It might even have taught Amanda some ways to deal with her sister.

    I love that food and food preparation are Ginny's coping mechanism and that Gert uses Ginny's talent in the kitchen to draw Ginny out into the world.  Amanda really does want to help, but she goes about it all wrong. And watching it unfold through Ginny's eyes makes it seem even more difficult than it is. Ginny is willing to help others, if it's in her comfort zone, but she has to learn to help herself.

    If that isn't enough to draw the reader in, Jael McHenry adds a layer of magical realism.  Raising ghosts is enough to unbalance anyone, but for Ginny it's something she can rationalize. However, her Asperger's doesn't allow her to focus on the questions to which she wants answers.  Instead she follows old patterns and misses the big picture. In the end it is her grief, her concern for others and her realizations about her family are what finally force Ginny to accept help and to help herself.

    I usually comment on a author's writing style, especially if it's my first time reading his/her work but I was so involved with the story that I can't really say much about it - so I'd say that in and of itself is impressive. I was absorbed into Ginny's world and her food. Oh, yes, there are recipes too!  Each one is in someone else's handwriting and each one holds special significance to Ginny.  There was only one thing that I wish Ms. McHenry would have resolved a little better, but I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll leave it at that.

    This is a heartwarming tale of family, grieving, and food told through the eyes of someone who sees everything a little bit differently.  I will definitely be seeking out Jael McHenry's work again, even if her next book is not food related, because she has a talent for bringing a story to life.  As for The Kitchen Daughter, it is a must read.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 6, 2011

    Captivated me from the beginning!

    Ginny captured my heart from the beginning. The family dynamics are so real, and who wouldn't want to have a last conversation with a loved one. I couldn't put this book down!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2013

    Good Book

    An easy read. An interesting story... Definitely worth reading.

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  • Posted December 10, 2011

    Live To Read

    Looking for a great Christmas gift? This book is guaranteed to keep its reader up late at night, unable to put the book down. Ginny, the main character, is portrayed as quiet and rather stuck in her ways. She lost both of her parents and has an overprotective sister. When she discovers that by baking someones recipe, she can bring back his/her ghost, she begins to experiment. However, she receives warnings, pleas, and quiet reassurances in response. Ginny must decide how much she wants to learn about the past and her family before she learns much too much. Along the way, she meets a man who slowly becomes her friend, slowly helps her adjust to being around someone. There is a soft undertone of romantic possibility in the book; that undertone combined with the air of mystery concerning the past and the ghosts and the possibilities of cooking recipes makes this book impossible to put down.

    Ginny's character was easy to like. Although she could certainly freeze people out, she was a quiet character, she has a certain way about her that appears vulnerable. Even if she does not seem to warm to the reader, the reader will most likely warm to her. The other characters are exceedingly interesting to get to know. They range from scary to loving to secretive. The events in this book moved the plot along at a fast pace. Ginny leads the reader through a baking adventure and the chance to discover some long held past family secrets.

    Overall, this book was a great read. The author has a very even-toned way of telling the story and holding the readers' attention. Ginny's character will appear as a friend to the reader. This book is recommended to adult readers.

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  • Posted September 9, 2011

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    A Lilac Wolf and Stuff Review

    The cover art is phenomenal on this one. It's a mesh bag holding red peppers, but it's shaped in a way to look like a tank top on a woman. It feels comfortable.

    I knew before reading that this is a book about a young woman with Asperger's Syndrome, but I was shocked to see that she had no idea. Her parents had always told her she had a "personality" and sheltered her probably more than they needed to.

    She loves to cook and is actually great at it. She makes her Nonna's bread soup for comfort during the wake after her parents funeral - all the people touching her and talking to her just push it too far. She flees to the kitchen and finds her Nonna's recipe and when she makes it, her Nonna comes to the kitchen. And that starts the journey...she makes a person's recipe, a recipe written in their own hand, and the ghost of said person shows up.

    In doing this, Ginny starts a journey where she learns secrets in her family she never would have guessed. When she finds a letter of apology from her father to her mother along with pictures of a strange woman, she thinks he had an affair. The truth is so far from that rocks her to her very core.

    She gets diagnosed with the syndrome, and being so smart she takes the advice of her doctor and makes her way out of the house and into life. Proving to herself and her sister that she really can make it on her own. And maybe someday she really will get married and have children of her own.

    I think this book also highlights the dangers of refusing labels. Yes labeling can be bad, but when you avoid it too much, you can miss out on the help your child may need. Ginny's mom wouldn't let the teachers label her, but in doing that Ginny never got the extra help that would have allowed her to fit in more and function outside the house.

    This is exactly the kind of story that I love. And I especially loved Ginny because even though I have never been diagnosed with asperger's syndrome, I can relate to her difficulty with people. I'm not big on touching and I never know the right thing to say or do. Ginny really touched me...this whole story and all the characters touched me.

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  • Posted June 19, 2011

    Couldn't put this book down !

    If you like good food and quirky characters this is the perfect book !

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  • Posted June 5, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    I read, I cried, I loved.

    Ginny Selvaggio is twenty-six years old, and she's spent her whole life comforted with food. But not eating food, instead making it. Taking recipes and creating dishes, searching food blogs and trying new things. She is an adventurer in her life by searching the internet and reading new food techniques to try out, but she is an adventurer only inside her house. She's never moved out of her parent's home, and with their recent, unexpected deaths, along with her sister wanting to sell the house and move Ginny into her home, Ginny's feeling a little overwhelmed. To cooking she goes. The process of caramelizing onions reassures her, the smells of chocolate occupy her during moments of stress, figuring out how the combinations of a spice with something sweet will enhance each. This is how she copes with it all. And right now, the oddest thing is happening. When she makes the recipes of those who have died, they come back to visit, sitting on the stool in the kitchen, only staying long enough while the smell of their food lingers. And because she can interact with them, she asks them questions, putting her on a path to find out who she really is, to find out why she is the way she is. Ginny is something most people aren't. She's literal. Blunt. If you tell her that she's beating around the bush, she'd probably be confused and, while not looking right at you, respond with something like "I'm not beating around a bush. I'm standing right here." Not surprisingly, this type of personality doesn't win her a lot of friends. And because this book is about cooking, and especially cooking the recipes from family that mean the most, I want to write a clever post with analogies of Ginny's cooking and Jael McHenry's beautiful writing, because the story is a fulfilling creation that leaves the reader, the one consuming, satisfied and full with happiness. But then I want to stop myself because I think that's what everyone else would do. Then, I think, as long as I share with you this important fact from me, it will be okay: this is a book I loved. I loved the quirkiness of Ginny, the tough outer shell of her sister Amanda, the soft comfort of their housekeeper Gert, and Gert's son, the confused and heartbroken David. I read the last half in two hours, making mental notes of each recipe I'll be cooking in my kitchen this weekend when I get home. I already like to cook, but this story gave me an even deeper, more holistic and appreciative view of it. The creation of equal parts sadness, family, love, and food into one flourishing finish of a story that will be devoured quickly, left me with a craving for Jael McHenry's next book. If you like a dash of magical realism, along with cooking, recipes thrown into it all, then I'm pretty sure you'll like this book.

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  • Posted May 30, 2011


    Such a delight! Couldn't put it down!

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  • Posted April 18, 2011

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    Bridget's Review

    The Kitchen Daughter blew me away. After reading the first thirty pages, I was hooked and didn't come up for air. I did have to take a break while reading it even though I didn't want to. It's amazing how a book can make it's way into your heart and you almost feel like it's a friend, not a book. That's how I feel about The Kitchen Daughter. I recommend this book to everyone.

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    Posted April 25, 2012

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    Posted July 20, 2011

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    Posted May 10, 2011

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    Posted August 10, 2011

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    Posted November 20, 2011

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