Friday, June 3, 2011

The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry

  So I just finished The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry today, and it was quite an entertaining book.  It's about a young woman, Ginny, who has Asperger's Syndrome and is forced to deal with the unexpected death of her parents.  As she and her sister, Amanda, disagree on her level of independence, Ginny finds solace in cooking from old family recipes.  She soon finds out that she has the power to conjure the ghosts of her dead relatives, just by cooking from their recipes (as long as it is in their handwriting and she follows the directions exactly).  As shocking as this is, Ginny uses this power to solve the mysteries that her parents left behind, such as a cryptic letter hidden in the chimney, or a box of photographs depicting a woman she has never seen.  Ginny may have been sheltered and overprotected her whole life, but these new-found abilities inspire her to become more assertive and explore a new world she has never known.

   I first thought this book was going to be mostly about family conflicts (disagreements with her sister, learning things about her parents she never knew), but it really turned out to be a lot more than that.  Ginny's character is quite endearing, as she struggles with being "normal" and gaining respect from her sister.  We also see Ginny transform from a girl who hides in closets during anxiety attacks to a young woman willing to step outside of her comfort zone for the sake of making a friend.  Plus, if you enjoy cooking, you'll love The Kitchen Daughter.  Many of the chapters feature the full recipes that she uses to conjure ghosts, which is great unless you're superstitious.  The ending of the book contains a shocking twist, and I won't ruin it for you, but for me it was pretty unexpected.

   The Kitchen Daughter is quirky, and the supernatural aspect may not appeal to everyone, but the story is more about Ginny's personal journey than anything else.  If you're looking for an absorbing book to add to your summer reading list, you should definitely check out this one.