From the Kitchen of Half Truth [NOOK Book]

Overview

Infused with the delicious warmth of Chocolat and the captivating feeling of School of Essential Ingredients.

If your mother can't seem to tell the truth...how true is your life?

Meg May doesn't know what's true. And she needs to find out.

Imaginative and free-spirited, Meg's mother created a life out of stories. Outlandish stories, really, the kind you can't possibly believe—unless your mother won't tell you ...

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From the Kitchen of Half Truth

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Overview

Infused with the delicious warmth of Chocolat and the captivating feeling of School of Essential Ingredients.

If your mother can't seem to tell the truth...how true is your life?

Meg May doesn't know what's true. And she needs to find out.

Imaginative and free-spirited, Meg's mother created a life out of stories. Outlandish stories, really, the kind you can't possibly believe—unless your mother won't tell you anything else about your past. After all, how do you argue with someone who tells you that a spaghetti plant sprouted on your first birthday, that you used to take hot dogs for a walk, or that your father died in a tragic pastry-mixing accident?

But as charming as those stories are, they aren't enough for Meg anymore. When her mother becomes ill, Meg decides she has to know the truth. As the two spend one last summer together, Meg can't convince her mother to reveal a thing about who they used to be—or who they are now.

A delicious debut, full of warmth and quirky humor, From the Kitchen of Half Truth explores the stories we tell ourselves and others in order to create the lives we want.

From the Kitchen of Half Truth, which won the Derby Short Story Competition, is Maria Goodin's first novel.

"Beautifully conveyed...delicate and magical. Happy to recommend this book!"—Marilyn Lustig, Wellesley Books, Wellesley, MA

"From the Kitchen of Half Truth depicts a complicated mother-daughter relationship that anyone can appreciate."—Jessilyn Norcross, McLean and Eaken Booksellers, Peroskey, MI

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Meg May was raised on intricately woven, beautifully told fantasies. Her mother, Valerie, didn't leave room in their lives for differentiating between truth and fiction, and Meg learns on a hard day at school that her memories aren't accepted as reality. Stories her mother has told throughout her life that make up her history are ridiculed by classmates and teachers. She burns with shame and confusion, and has a sudden distrust of her mother's world of fancy. Grownup Meg, now a scientist, moves home when Valerie becomes ill and refuses to acknowledge it. In reality, she's dying; in her persistent fantasy world, she carries on cooking, baking, and telling elaborate stories to Meg and their new gardener, Ewan, while Meg chips away at the past until she unearths pieces that begin to make sense. As Valerie's illness progresses, Meg must decide whether reality, however harsh, is more important than comfort. VERDICT An impressive and heartfelt debut that will appeal to many readers, this charming and sensitive mother/daughter story captures the struggle between protection and isolation.—Julie Kane, Sweet Briar College Lib., VA
Publishers Weekly
Meg May's mother Valerie told the most fantastic stories, and as child Meg believed them, thinking it possible that she could blow up like a beach ball after drinking too much carbonated lemonade or capture fairies in milk bottles. At age eight, Meg was humiliated in front of her class after repeating a story about beans that could run and decided to rely only on common sense and logic from that point on. Now a scientist at the age of 21, Meg has returned home to care for her dying mother and attempts to seek the truth about her past. She realizes that the hunt for her father, a French pastry chef who died in a pastry-making accident, not only brings people back into her mother's life that she's unwilling to face, but may lead Meg down a road that she's not ready to travel. With the encouragement of Ewan, the attractive gardener, Meg opens her mind to Valerie's flighty thinking. In this touching debut novel about the relationship between a mother daughter, Goodin does effectively portrays Meg's annoyance at her mother's stories, but Valerie's obliviousness to Meg's frustrations grates. Nevertheless, Meg's love for Valerie is as clear as her logic. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
"Beautifully conveyed...delicate and magical. Happy to recommend this book!" - Marilyn Lustig, Wellesley Books, Wellesley, MA

"From the Kitchen of Half Truth depicts a complicated mother-daughter relationship that anyone can appreciate." - Jessilynn Norcross, McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petosky, MI

"A mother's perseverance, a daughter's self-discovery, and a brilliant examination of the human psyche's coping mechanisms in response to tragic events. ... Maria Goodin has proven herself a talented storyteller with this debut novel and an author that I look forward to seeing more from in the future." - The Book Barista

"Fans of Sarah Dessen and Carol Cassella will appreciate Goodin's clear, lyrical prose ... Funny, tender, quirky, and heartfelt, From the Kitchen of Half Truth is for anyone who has daydreamed about the future or been shocked to find something unexpected in the past." - Booklist

"A gorgeous tale of love, loss and making sense of the past ... filled with energy and life." - RT Book Reviews

"A story about understanding and compassion and how people often distort the truth to protect themselves and others, Goodin's narrative contains moments of eloquence, wit and sensitivity" - Kirkus Reviews

"Held me captivated from first to last word ... You'll find just a little piece of yourself in all the wonderful characters." - Long and Short Reviews

"There are some novels that grip you with a story so unique, yet so heart wrenching that you can't stop reading. From the Kitchen of Half Truth was just such a novel." - Laura's Reviews

"I tend to form friendships with the books I read; some are acquaintances, some pass through friends and others are keepers. This book is a keeper. ... The characters, are well drawn and 'feel' very real." - Cocktails and Books

"A warm novel that deals with relationships using quirky humour, nature, and the power of storytelling ... Highly recommended." - From the Library of Clean Reads

Kirkus Reviews
Goodin's debut about a woman who prefers to look at the world through rose-colored glasses and a daughter who views everything in terms of black and white blends humor and inspiration but may leave some readers feeling half-full. Meg May recalls few specifics about her early childhood, but she does remember the whimsical details provided by her mother, Valerie. According to her mom, Meg is the daughter of a pastry chef who died in a terrible pastry-mixing accident; Meg clucked like a chicken when she was born; the small scar on Meg's face was caused by a crab cake, which bit her; and when she was a year old, she climbed into a freezer and had to defrost in a tub of hot water for two hours. Meg believed these and many more stories until she was 8 years old and wrote about her earliest memory, which she read to her class. Humiliated by her peers' laughter when she recounted how her mother chased running beans throughout the kitchen, thereafter Meg rejected any element of make-believe and turned toward science as an orderly, logical way to view the world. Now grown, Meg leaves her studies at Leeds University to care for Val during the final stages of her cancer, and she realizes that this may be her last chance to learn the truth about her past. But Valerie won't even admit she's ill, much less acknowledge that her tales are nothing more than fantasy. A story about understanding and compassion and how people often distort the truth to protect themselves and others, Goodin's narrative contains moments of eloquence, wit and sensitivity, but it's difficult to ignore the overall saccharine tone of the novel and its fairy-tale characters: Ewan, the pure-hearted hero who communicates with plants and animals; Meg, the beautiful young damsel in distress who finds herself slowly drawn into Ewan's orbit; Mark, the unpleasant, regimented and controlling boyfriend who pushes Meg to confront her mother; Val, the free-spirited, generous and loving woman who lives in her own world; the members of the band Chlorine; the buffoonish, lovable dwarves--er, men--who've never grown up. Somewhat enjoyable.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402279492
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/1/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 60,167
  • File size: 1,015 KB

Read an Excerpt

chapter one

I came out a little underdone. Five more minutes and I would have been as big as the other children, my mother said. She blamed my pale complexion on her cravings for white bread (too much flour) and asked the doctor if I would have risen better had she done more exercise (too little air). The doctor wasn't sure about this, but he was very concerned about the size of my feet. He suggested that next time my mother was pregnant she should try standing on her head or spinning in circles (spinning in circles on her head would be ideal), as this would aid the mixing process and result in a better-proportioned baby.

My father was a French pastry chef with nimble fingers and a gentle touch. On my mother's sixteenth birthday he led her to a cherry orchard and fed her warm custard tart under a moonlit sky. She knew it would never last, that his passion for shortcrust would always be greater than his passion for her, but she was intoxicated by his honey skin and cinnamon kisses. When they made love, the Earth shook, and ripe cherries fell to the orchard floor. My father gathered the fallen cherries in a blanket and promised my mother that upon his return to Paris he would create a cherry pastry and name it after her, but he never had the chance. Four days after his return to France he was killed in a tragic pastry-mixing accident. The only part of him still visible above the dough was his right hand, in which he clutched a single plump, red cherry. Finding herself alone with a bun in the oven and no instructions, my mother set the timer on top of her parents' fridge to nine months and waited patiently for it to ping.

Throughout her pregnancy, my mother suffered all manner of complications. She was overcome by hot flashes several times a day, which the midwife blamed on a faulty thermostat, and she experienced such bad gas that a man from the local gas board had to come and give her a ten-point safety check. Her fingers swelled up like sausages so that every time she walked down the street, the local dogs would chase her, snapping at her hands. She consumed a copious amount of eggs, not because she craved them, but because she was convinced the glaze would give me a nice golden glow. Instead, when the midwife slapped me on the back, I clucked like a chicken.

***

I want you to understand that these are all my mother's words, not mine. I myself am mentally stable and under no illusion that any of this ever actually happened. I have no idea what did happen during the first five years of my life, because for some reason I can't recall a thing. Not a birthday party, not a Christmas, not a trip to the seaside...not a thing. I don't remember my first bedroom, the toys I played with, the games I liked. Perhaps people don't remember much from those first five years, but I'm convinced I should remember something. Anything. Instead, all I have to go on are my mother's memories, which, in fact, are not memories at all but ridiculous fantasies that reflect her obsession with food and cooking and deny me any insight into my early years.

Am I annoyed with her? Of course I am! I want to know how I started out in this world, who my father was, what I was like as a baby, normal things like that. But however much I ask, I always get the same old stories: the spaghetti plant that sprouted in our window box on my first birthday, the Christmas turkey that sprang to life and released itself from the oven when I was two, the horseradish sauce that neighed unexpectedly...I mean, what is all this rubbish? I'm twenty-one years old, and yet my crazy mother still insists on telling me idiotic stories like I'm a baby. She's told these stories so many times that she actually believes them. The story of her pregnancy is ridiculous enough, but you should hear the story of my birth.

***

It was the gasman's fault I came out underdone. He'd come to deliver my mother's ten-point safety certificate in person after taking a bit of a shine to her, and my mother had felt obliged to offer him a slice of her freshly baked date-and-almond cake. They were having tea in my grandparents' kitchen when, all of a sudden, the gasman started choking. My grandfather, a member of the St. John's ambulance service, jumped up and grabbed the gasman around the waist and, with a sharp squeeze, freed the offending morsel of cake, which flew across the room, knocking the timer off the fridge. At the sound of the ping, I thought my time was up and started to push my way into the world.

Between them, my grandparents and the gasman carried my mother upstairs and laid her on my grandparents' bed.

"The baby can't come out yet!" my mother kept shouting. "It won't be properly done!"

But done or not, I was coming out, and so efforts began to make the labor as short and painless as possible.

"Go and get some butter, Brenda!" shouted my grandfather to my grandmother, mopping his brow with his handkerchief. "If she eats a pack of butter, the baby should slide out."

But a pack of butter did no good other than to turn my mother's skin yellow, so my grandmother suggested garlic.

"The baby won't like it if you eat garlic. He'll want to come out for air."

Consuming an entire bulb of garlic didn't force me out either, so my mother shouted, "Get some of that cake up here! We'll lure the baby out with the delicious smell."

And so half a freshly baked date-and-almond cake was held between my mother's thighs, and, lo and behold, I started to move.

"It's coming fast!" screamed my mother.

"Quickly, Brenda, get something to catch it in!" cried my grandfather.

In the end, it was the gasman who caught me in a heavy-based frying pan. By the time the midwife arrived, it was all over, although she insisted on poking me gently with a fork and plonking me onto the kitchen scales. She sniffed me and confirmed I was under-ripe, but as soon as she put me on the windowsill, my mother took me down again.

"She's my baby, and she'll ripen when she wants!" snapped my mother. Holding me close to her chest, she kissed the top of my head and proclaimed I tasted like nutmeg.

And so that's what I was called.

Meg.

***

I'm traveling home for the weekend, if you can call it home. When my grandfather died three years ago, my mother moved into the little cottage in Cambridgeshire where she grew up, the one where I was supposedly born, although I don't even know if that's true. The cottage suits her perfectly. Although it's not big, it has a long, narrow garden where my mother can indulge her love of growing fruits and vegetables. She grows potatoes and cabbages, spinach, peas, radishes, tomatoes, lettuce...and then there's all the fruit. Apart from having a small apple orchard at the far side of the garden, she also grows strawberries, plums, gooseberries, raspberries...the list is really quite endless. She spends her time gathering and cooking all these ingredients, boiling things up in big metal saucepans, frying, stewing, roasting, baking, simmering, steaming. She makes stews, pies, tarts, casseroles, cakes, soups, sauces, sorbets-you name it, she makes it. I have absolutely no idea what she does with all this food, and whenever I ask her, she's very elusive. It's my suspicion that a lot of it must get thrown away. The real enjoyment is in the cooking process itself, and what happens to the food after that is seemingly inconsequential to her. She's a flamboyant, reckless cook, throwing things around, chucking bits here and there, and leaving destruction in her wake. By the end of the day, the kitchen looks like a bomb's exploded, but I'm used to it.

My mother raised me among culinary chaos in a small North London flat. Because the ventilation was poor and my mother was constantly cooking, we survived in a haze of steam, which once got so dense that my mother lost me for forty-eight hours. She finally tracked me down in the living room with the aid of a special fog lamp. Apparently.

Because we had no TV or radio, the soundtrack to my childhood was compiled of saucepan lids banging, knives chopping, mixers whirring, and liquids bubbling. I went to school with clothes that smelled of spice and a lunchbox packed with elaborate sandwiches and homemade delicacies. The other kids thought we must be posh, but, in fact, we survived on a meager income. My mother was never too proud to take the squishy fruit or bruised vegetables that were left at the end of market day. Nothing made her happier than baking.

Nothing other than me, that is.

***

"Twelve minutes late," sighs Mark, staring up at the departures board. "Forty-six pounds for a train ticket, and the bloody thing's twelve minutes late. It's ridiculous. Do you realize you're spending approximately twenty-one pence for each minute you will sit on that train? That means that, in theory, they owe you two pounds and fifty-two pence for the twelve minutes you've wasted sitting on this platform. Oh, thirteen minutes now. So that makes it-"

"Mark," I interrupt, taking his hand, "you really don't have to wait with me."

He puts his arms around me and pulls me close to his chest. "I want to wait with you, babe," he says, smiling, showing off his beautifully straight, white teeth.

I take in the sharp angle of his cheekbones, the perfect line of his nose, the subtle arch of his brows. He is wonderfully symmetrical. Classically handsome. Like a child fascinated by an attractive object, I can't stop myself from reaching out and tracing the contours of his clean-shaven jawline with my fingers. His clear blue eyes sparkle with intelligence and betray a wealth of knowledge. He is always questioning, learning, rationalizing, and this thirst for knowledge, along with his heightened sense of practicality, makes me weak at the knees. When I first listened to him speak about condensed-matter physics, I knew I was in love; here was a man who, above all else, craved the same thing I did: hard, cold facts.

Mark brushes a piece of hair away from my face. "I've never noticed that little scar on your forehead before," he says, rubbing at it as if it's an imperfection he might erase.

"That's where I was bitten by a crab cake," I say casually.

"You mean a crab."

"No, a crab cake. When I was tiny, my mother made a batch of crab cakes, but she left a pincer in one of them by mistake. She told me not to touch them, but when she left the kitchen, I took one off the plate and was about to eat it when a pincer shot out and nipped me on the face. She couldn't pry it off. In the end, she got a match and held the flame underneath, and it eventually let go. The crab claw scuttled off under the fridge, and for weeks we were too scared to look under there in case it leaped out and..."

My voice tapers off as I feel Mark's arms slide from around my waist and he takes a step back. My accidental slip into this world of lunacy has embarrassed him. Again. He offers me an awkward smile, and I feel foolish, like I always do when these stories tumble out of my mouth. What he doesn't understand is they're like memories for me, so ingrained in my psyche that I sometimes forget none of it ever happened.

"Don't let your mother fill your head with too much nonsense this time," says Mark, a pleading look in his eyes. Last time I came back from my mother's, I told him how I'd apparently crawled into the freezer when I was barely a year old and had to be soaked in hot water for two hours to thaw out. I had told him with a faint smile on my lips, finding some amusement in the ridiculous image of myself-a frosty, blue baby, slowly warming through and becoming pink again as I sat in a pan full of steaming water-but Mark hadn't seen the funny side at all.

"You would have died," he had pointed out. "Or at least have suffered from frostbite. You would certainly be missing a few of your extremities."

"You're absolutely right," I had said, pulling myself together and wiping the smile from my face. "It never could have happened."

"Of course it couldn't have happened. I just don't get how you can laugh it off, though. Doesn't it annoy you, Meg? She's turned your childhood into a farce. I mean, why do you allow her to go on telling you such silly tales?"

"Because they're all I've got," I had said rather too defensively. "I'd rather have fictional memories than no memories at all. Besides, it's always been this way. I'm used to it. And anyway, it's all harmless rubbish really, isn't it?"

"Is it?"

And of course I wasn't sure. This fantastical world that had been part of my life-part of me-for so long had started to seem less entrancing, less colorful, less absorbing as I grew older. I felt confused and cheated by the stories that had once held me captivated and enthralled. Where I had once been carried away on a magic carpet into a fantastical past that I couldn't recall, I now felt irritated and patronized. A story, after all, is just another word for a lie.

"I won't let her fill my head with anything," I promise Mark, trying to redeem myself from claiming I was assaulted by a crab cake. It's still fairly early days in our relationship-only seven months in-and I desperately want to make a good impression, but every time I talk about my childhood he must think I'm insane. Or at least that I have an insane mother, which still isn't a particularly appealing quality in a girl.

"Here's your train," he says, drawing me toward him. "Have a great weekend and make sure you think of me every second that you're away."

"I will."

"I'll see you Sunday evening."

When we kiss, I breathe in the sweet scent of his expensive aftershave. He is so perfect. And he's mine!

I pick up my bag and board the train.

"And Meg," he calls after me, "I hope your mum's doing okay."

I smile appreciatively and wonder if he's talking about her wayward mind or her dying body.

***

It hasn't always been like this. I haven't always been ashamed of my fantastical past. When I was a little girl, I would boast to my friends about how I once ate so many apples that I started spitting seeds, or how my mother's meringues were so light that we once floated to the kitchen ceiling together after just one bite. At first the other children used to envy my extraordinary childhood and listen to my stories in awe, hanging on my every word. Their memories were so boring in comparison. Tracey Pratt's funniest memory was the day she got stuck in the loo, and Jenny Bell remembered falling off a donkey, but none of their memories ever compared to mine. And they were memories at that time, or at least I thought they were. I had heard the stories so many times that they had become part of me, part of my past. I could actually feel myself floating against the kitchen ceiling, half a meringue still clutched in my tiny fist, looking down on the cramped kitchen. I remembered seeing the baking tray steaming in the yellow washing-up bowl and the discarded ball of parchment paper lying on the worktop, little crumbs of meringue stuck to it. I recalled sitting in my highchair and spitting those apple pips across the kitchen, hearing them ping against the steamy window as my mother stirred something in a saucepan on the stove. As sure as the sun had risen that morning, these things had happened to me.

It wasn't until I was about eight that I first felt something was wrong. On our first day back after the summer holidays, Mrs. Partridge, in an attempt to get to know the class, had asked us to write a paragraph titled "My Earliest Memory." I knew how much everyone loved hearing about my life, so when it was my turn to share my work with the rest of Red Class, I stood up, puffed my chest out, held my head up high, and read my paragraph with pride.

In my earliest memory, I am very little, and I am sitting on the kitchen floor at home, and my mum is about to start chopping runner beans when they all leap up and run away. My mum says she knew she shouldn't have bought runner beans, and then she starts chasing them, and they are running in circles round me, and I am laughing. It was very funny.

I looked up from my book and smiled at Mrs. Partridge, waiting for her to praise my work, but she didn't look pleased at all. In fact she looked positively annoyed. To make matters worse, the other children in the class were starting to laugh. Not their usual, gleeful giggles of entertainment, but scornful snickers. Something seemed to have changed over the summer; my friends seemed to have grown up, and for the first time ever, I experienced the humiliation of knowing my peers were not laughing with me, but at me.

"Meg," said Mrs. Partridge sternly, "that's a very funny story, but it's not a memory, is it? All the other children have written something that actually happened to them."

I looked around me at my classmates' faces, each of them contorted into sneers and smirks. I heard Johnny Miller call me "dumb" and Sophie Potter whisper that I was "a big fat liar."

"Why is she always telling fibs?" Tracey Pratt whispered.

I didn't understand. Sophie and Tracey used to love listening to my childhood memories.

I felt my cheeks burning but didn't know what I had done wrong. I did remember the runner beans. I could still see them jogging in circles, puffing and panting as they did laps around me, and my mother chasing after them with a chopping knife and telling me to watch my head. I remembered that.

Didn't I?

"Meg May," said Mrs. Partridge sharply, "you're almost eight now. I hope this isn't how you think an eight-year-old should behave. Now, go and sit in the corner and don't rejoin Elm table until you can stop being silly!"

And so I slunk off into the corner, confused and ashamed, hot tears burning my eyes.

***

After that day I questioned everything. I knew beans couldn't run and people couldn't float, so how was it that I remembered these things happening? Did I remember these things happening? Or was it like that time I found myself telling everyone how once, in nursery school, I had spun in circles so many times that I had thrown up on the play rug?

"That didn't happen to you, silly!" squealed Jenny Bell. "That happened to me!"

"Oh, yeah!" I screamed. "That was you! I don't know why I said that!"

At the time we had nearly wet ourselves laughing, but now, after my humiliation at the hands of Red Class, the incident seemed to take on new meaning. How had I thought that something that had happened to Jenny had actually happened to me? Was it because she had told me that story so many times that I had somehow put myself in her shoes? What if being encircled by frightened, puffing runner beans was not a memory at all? And if my memories had never really happened, then what had happened? Memory, it suddenly seemed, was subject to distortions and could not be trusted.

"Well, I remember it happening," my mother said defiantly when I questioned her about it. "Those blasted things were fit as fiddles and just kept going and going. I distinctly remember that by the time I caught up with them, I was too exhausted to cook them, and we ended up having egg on toast for dinner instead."

"But beans don't run," I persisted.

"Huh! You try telling them that!"

Suffice it to say that by the age of eight I was confused. Could I trust my mother? Could I trust my own mind? Only one thing was for sure: never again would I humiliate myself by talking about things that might not be true. Even if there was only the tiniest chance that something might not be true, I would hesitate before saying it. I would weigh everything up first, use every bit of knowledge and reasoning I had, and then try to come to a sensible conclusion. Only when I was one hundred percent sure that my views were logical and right would I give voice to them. That way nobody could ever call me a liar again, and nobody would be able to laugh at me.

In a fit of overzealousness, I threw out my dolls and packed away my storybooks in an attempt to rid my life of any make-believe that might contaminate my mind. I pinched myself each time I daydreamed as a form of punishment. I listened to my mother's stories with nothing more than polite detachment and sat alone on the wall at break times, watching my classmates with disdain as they ran around pretending to be ponies and princesses. They didn't understand the danger they were in, teetering on the edge of fantasy worlds that threatened to pull them in and drag them under, sapping them of any logic and making them laughingstocks.

But I knew. I had seen the dark gulf between fiction and reality, and there was no way I was going to be dragged down into the abyss.

Without knowing it, I had already decided to become a scientist.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 34 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 34 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 12, 2013

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    I really enjoyed reading this story, a beautiful story about a d

    I really enjoyed reading this story, a beautiful story about a daughter and a mother. Do yourself a favor and pick this up today you will thoroughly enjoy it.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 7, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I tend to form friendships with the books I read; some are acqua

    I tend to form friendships with the books I read; some are acquaintances, some pass through friends and others are keepers.  This book is a keeper.  Unfortunately, because of that it's harder to write a review without sounding overly gushy.  But if I have to sing the praises of a book then this one is it.

    First, the pacing and atmosphere of this book is spot on.  Goodin begins the book with what feels like magical realism and weaves it all the way through her narrative,  making it an integral part of her main character.  The pacing is slow without being boring, like the walk you take the first day of Spring soaking up the sun and flowers.

    I immediately identified with and sympathized with Meg as she tried to balance the truth and fiction about her childhood.  She struggles to accept the stories her mother tells while trying to feed her need for truth.

    One of the strongest parts of From The Kitchen of Half Truths is the love story.  Not the traditional boy/girl love story but it's exploration of mother daughter relationships and their complexity.  I truly felt for these two women and wanted them to come together before it was too late.  The underlying romantic love story was a slow build and rang true.  However, I did find Mark's condescending artifice a bit heavy handed.

    I can tell you of you are expecting one of those quaint stories with recipes this is not the book, although good does play an integral part. The characters, are well drawn and "feel" very real.  From The Kitchen of Half Truths is well worth the time it takes to get into the story and know the characters.  

    Reviewed by Karon for Cocktails and Books

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 22, 2013

    more from this reviewer

     I enjoyed reading this book very much.  It was like curling up

     I enjoyed reading this book very much.  It was like curling up under a blanket on a rainy day.  When I had to put it down, I couldn't wait to start reading it again and the words just flowed beautifully.  




    The stories that Meg's mother, Valerie, tells her about her childhood all reflect cooking or food in some way.  This makes sense as Valerie's passion is cooking.  She has filled Meg's head with wonderful stories and created this fantastical world where the scar on her head is from a bite from a crabcake; that they once had a spaghetti plant growing in their windowbox; that one summer the runner beans that they had picked all got up and ran away.  It is that last story about the runner beans that makes Meg realize at the age of 8, that maybe everything her mother tells her isn't the truth.  She decides that she is done with make believe and from there on out everything has to have it's basis in fact. Unfortunately, she has already been labeled as a 'liar' and kind of nutty for believing these stories and so her life growing up is a lonely one.  




    When she is 21 she goes back to spend the summer with her mother as her mother is dying.  She is still full of spirit though and greets each day as if nothing is wrong.  Meg tries to get her mother to tell her about her childhood, as well as face the fact that she is dying, but her mother continues to spin her fanciful tales and avoids the truth.  The gardener that Valerie has hired, Ewan, is very taken with Valerie and shares his own tales with her.  Try as she might, Meg just doesn't have the same connection to her mother that Ewan does - or maybe we should say the same acceptance that Ewan does.  She continues to dig for anything that might tell her something about her childhood.  




    I will say it again, I really enjoyed reading this book and was sorry to see it end.  It had lots of little bits of wisdom tucked into the quirky tales - some of which were quite humorous.  I loved the relationship that Meg had with her mother, even if she wasn't quite as satisfied with it as she felt she should be.  Even though she wanted answers to her questions, she also wanted to protect her mother as anything to do with her past seemed to upset her.  




    I think this would be a good book for a reading club- lots of stuff to discuss about relationships - those between mother and daughter; best friends; spouses or potential spouses.  There is also the big question that they raise in the synopsis - what kind of tales will we spin to give us the lives that we want?

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 5, 2013

    What a wonderful book!  Full of humor and tenderness, and lesson

    What a wonderful book!  Full of humor and tenderness, and lessons for life.  Couldn't put it down, but was sad when it ended--only because it seemed so real!  Not sure whether this is Maria Goodin's first book, but I hope there are more soon!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2014

    Loved it!

    A wonderul book. Wish she had another.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2014

    Dallas

    K

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2014

    A

    This book made me think. It was a good read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2014

    /

    .

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2014

    Rick

    Stabs the thing in the head

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2014

    Drew

    Get away from us. We are all taken

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2014

    H

    Yvhb
    <pb>
    Hhh

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2014

    Deer

    Hears Ciaro

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2014

    Jiselle

    She smiles slightly to herself

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2014

    Hot boobe cheerleader to ciaro

    SMACKS HIM HARD THAT MAKES HIM BLEED BI.T.CH

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2014

    Lloyed

    Anyone want to be my freind

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2014

    Elizia

    Waking in she looked at the trees. The were perfectly spaced and had long sturdy branches. This would do perfectly for a little chalenge. It would be just like the old days when she needed to steal things, food mostly. She smiled. The was the perfect time for a small training session. Sliping off her jacket so she could move around better she began her assent to the top of the tree infrount of her. She looked out over the trees and found what she was looking for, a tree taller than the rest. Grabing her watch from her shoulder bag she droped the so it fell down next to her jacket. As she fastened her watch to her wrist she began to talk. "Alright Zia, just like the old days. That tall tree is your goal. Get there with out touching the ground and under five minutes." After she set her watch she gave herself a minute to plan a path through the trees. "Remember, if you dont make it you dont get food." And with that she hit start. Right away she jumped down to the brach below her and again jumped lower to a branch the would hold her weight. Grabing the branch above her she swung over to the next tree. There she jumped down to a long branch. She took a moment to get her blance and ran for the end of the branch. Right before the wood ran out she threw her weight down and jumped useing the extra force to make it to the next branch she wanted. By now she was getting short of breath she but contiued on. She didnt dare check her watch. She was getting closer to forest floor now where the branches were wider and thicker. Useing another branch she swung over to a different tree. She manuvered around its trunk to a branch that was thin and quite as strong. Useing her same technique she jumped to grab a higer branch. She made the jump and before her hands slipped she pulled her self up onto it. This branch persented a challenge. The gap between her current branch and her target branch was to wide to get to with just a jump, and this branch was to thick to give her lift. She sucked in breath and moved back towards the tree trunk. She took a running start a jummped, fliping in mid air which was just enough to make it. She grined and contiued on. As she got higher she saw she was close to her goal but running out of time. She estimated she only had two minutes left and on top of that the trees were geting farther apart. When she was within twenty meters she grabed a branch to swing to another. As soon as it took her ful weight it snapped. She only just managed to grab the branch shed been on. Luckily she was able to recover and continue on. It was close now she could see it. All that it took was one more jump. She ran and jumped grabing a branch that came off another. She used her momentum from the jump to increase her swing to the next tree. As she flew she streached out and just barley grabed the branch she needed. She droped down to a lower branch and checked her watch. Shed made it with ninty seconds to spare. She let out a gasp of relife and droped down to sit on the branch. She only had a few scratches and her hands needed ontim<>_ent, but nothing serious. She brought ontim<>_ent with her in her bag. She leaned her head back and smiled feeling very happy.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2014

    Elise

    Yes?

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2014

    FOREST

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 17, 2014

    Not sure about this one

    I had a difficult time getting into this book. I kept thinking it would get better but it didn't. I was bored with the character's dysfunctional relationship with her mother who created a life of fantasy for her daughter. However, I did have to admire the daughter for her ability to have risen above the fantasy and remain in reality and her struggles to find the truth hidden beneath her mother's fantasy. It would be a great read for analysis by a psychology class.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2014

    strange but interesting

    An "interesting" book that I almost didn't finish. The beginning chapters are very strange. It begins with a fairytale story about the main character's birth and childhood - very outlandish, unbelievable stories. As the story evolves, her mother is dying of cancer and she has returned home to help her deal with it, although her mom has not accepted that she is dying. Faced with her mother's death, she wants to know the true story of her beginnings and begins a search that leads her down a very surprising path, totally unlike the make believe her mother had wanted her to believe.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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