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This first-person novel was actually better than I expected to be. The only problem I had was the fact that in the end it didn't seem quite resolved between the two sisters, and the motivation of the sister who wanted to sell the house seemed to change rather suddenly. still not bad, kept my interest, mostly.
FourFreedoms | outras 35 resenhas | May 17, 2019 |
This first-person novel was actually better than I expected to be. The only problem I had was the fact that in the end it didn't seem quite resolved between the two sisters, and the motivation of the sister who wanted to sell the house seemed to change rather suddenly. still not bad, kept my interest, mostly.
ShiraDest | outras 35 resenhas | Mar 6, 2019 |
This was a good read. I liked the "magical" elements of the recipes and the characters.
cubsfan3410 | outras 35 resenhas | Sep 1, 2018 |
Rispetto ad altri romanzi del genere letti di recente, in questo la cucina è veramente protagonista, manca poco che si riescano a sentire i profumi che si diffondono in questa stanza speciale.
La protagonista è decisamente insolita, giovane di fresco orfana di entrambi i genitori, che l'hanno sempre tenuta al riparo da un mondo che non l'avrebbe compresa - lei così diversa dagli altri. Non ho un problema, dice, ho una personalità - ma si fa presto a intuire che sotto sotto c'è un po' di Asperger, quella sindrome che assume tratti dell'autismo senza arrivare ai suoi estremi.
Problemi famigliari, incertezze, ricordi, tutto condito da ricette più o meno note, con un pizzico di magia.
Lettura piacevole, se non altro per la sua originalità.
LaPizia | Aug 3, 2017 |

Ginny, a 26 yr old with Asperger’s, must deal with the sudden loss of her overprotective parents. She struggles in a world that doesn’t consider her normal, including her sister, Amanda, who is dealing with the loss of their parents in her own way. She comes in to save the day. Conflict and misunderstanding arises when Ginny doesn’t want to be saved.

The different faces of grief are explored as well as the definition of "normal" You’ll find yourself rooting for Ginny, one of fiction’s most interesting and endearing characters, as she tries to find her way in an often confusing world. I’m not a big fan of magical realism but it’s done with a light touch and was an enjoyable part of the story.

When Ginny is overwhelmed, she copes by cooking so the recipes and descriptions of the prep and cooking are added bonuses.

Highly recommended. Good for book clubs.
janb37 | outras 35 resenhas | Feb 13, 2017 |
Marvelous. Much more [b:The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time|1618|The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time|Mark Haddon|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327882682s/1618.jpg|4259809] than [b:Like Water for Chocolate|89477|Like Water for Chocolate|Laura Esquivel|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1361177544s/89477.jpg|1172473]. All too short. I wanted to find out how these people were going to work through all the challenges facing them, because I loved them as real people, neither dysfunctional or perfect, and before I knew it I was done with the book!

A few too many deaths to be plausible in a story taking place in modern US, imo, but since one of the themes McHenry explored was grief, and the coping thereof, and all the varieties of same, the deaths were necessary. And they were almost all in the background, so the book is not a heavy read.

Just one question - what's up with Evangeline's ghost? (She appears early in the story, so the question is not a spoiler - but the answer may be, so if you answer in the comments below, please consider using spoiler tags).
Cheryl_in_CC_NV | outras 35 resenhas | Jun 6, 2016 |
My blog post about this book is at this link.½
SuziQoregon | outras 35 resenhas | Feb 25, 2016 |
Ginny, a twenty-something chef-extraordinaire finds solace in her family kitchen as a means of avoiding people and the world around her. Often referring to her Normal Book and multiple blogs and websites for advice and cooking information, Ginny lives a quiet life in the safe shelter of her mother and father. When they both pass away in an accident, Ginny must grapple with her world turning upside down, and to cope, turns to the kitchen's familiar scents and tastes. However, she is now able to summon the spirits who created the beloved recipes she holds dear, and these spirits reveal information to her that will change her reality.

It's a quick read with the smell and taste of food really brought to life by the author's words; for me, this was the best part of the book. Worth a read if you enjoy foodie fiction.½
Hanneri | outras 35 resenhas | Jun 26, 2015 |
Loved it. Actually copied some recipes!
Alphawoman | outras 35 resenhas | Apr 27, 2014 |
I picked this up to read and quickly realized that I had already read it but it's missing in my LIbraryThing list! The Aspergers aspect was what originally attracted me. Not sure why I missed listing it here at the actual time I read it (horrors!).
nyiper | outras 35 resenhas | Mar 18, 2014 |
A good novel that gives us insight into peop;e living with Asperger's disease and how we define normal. It also makes us think about our relationships with family and friends.
teeth | outras 35 resenhas | Mar 15, 2014 |
I would really give this book a 3.5 stars. It was interesting and quite mystical a bit like a mix between Isabel Allende and Joanne Harris.
jodes101 | outras 35 resenhas | May 9, 2013 |
Amazing telling of how the dead communicate with us - do you feel it, teachings from the afterlife come in the form of baking and cooking. Delightful read - another story of the struggles we face in life,
siKane | outras 35 resenhas | Apr 7, 2013 |
Insights into life with Asperger's, great recipies, and lots of thoughts about what make us who we are and our relationships with our family and friends.
lindap69 | outras 35 resenhas | Apr 5, 2013 |
Author Jael McHenry has written the sort of novel I just crave when the world feels too big. The narrator, Ginny, lives with Asperger's syndrome. She is finely attuned to all the small things that assault our senses even in the gentlest ways, and it becomes the reader's privilege to experience the textures and aromas that Ginny does, in the ways she does. By the end of this deeply affecting novel, Ginny's disability seems more gift than burden. A delight in every sense, and most highly recommended.
BluesGal79 | outras 35 resenhas | Mar 31, 2013 |
The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry is an amazing book. Jael McHenry is able to climb into the mind of a fictional character with Asperger's Syndrome and tell her thoughts so believably.

My brother has severe autism so I read everything that I can on it and Asperger's Syndrome. After finishing this book, I feel this is the best one written so far!

Ginny Selvaggio's father and mother have just died while on a trip. Ginny is left in the house that she grew up in with just someone who comes in from time to time to clean. She is in shock about the death and now her sister Amanda thinks the house should be sold! Ginny can't deal with it. She retreats to the kitchen to cook.

Cooking is the only way that she can soothe herself and get away from the frightening world. She tries that when many people from the funeral come to the house but something happens and she retreats again to a closet and to the familiar touch of her father's shoes.

Selling the house that she grew up in means another grief for Ginny so she desparetly resists with everything that she can try. When helping her sister pack up her parents things, Ginny uncovers some secrets of her family and begins to investigate. But the best story of this book is not the mysteries but Ginny herself.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who would like to learn more about Asperger's Syndrome and Autism or those who love a book that won't let go of you from page one.
Carolee888 | outras 35 resenhas | Sep 21, 2012 |
Seeking comfort in traditional family culinary practices after the early deaths of her parents, twenty-six-year-old Asperger’s patient Ginny struggles with her domineering sister’s decision to sell the house, troubling secrets, and the ghost of a dead ancestor. Summary BPL

Note:The above summary is somewhat inaccurate: Ginny thinks about food and cooks to self-soothe. Also, she is not diagnosed in the book as having Asperger’s and is therefore, not a “patient”.

A surprisingly well-told story. Kitchen Daughter begins with a twist: a main character who is able to conjure up spirits by following their recipes to the letter. These ghosts guide her through the turbulent weeks after the death of her parents as she struggles with her older sister about the disposition of the family home. Ginny is an atypical heroine but I was definitely on her side when she resisted her sister’s well-intentioned but self-serving plans to sell the family home and have her move in with her.

8.5 out of 10 Kitchen Daughter will be a satisfying read for food enthusiasts—Ms McHenry’s description practically amounts to virtual cooking—and for fans of quirky heroines with offbeat stories.½
julie10reads | outras 35 resenhas | Apr 16, 2012 |
[Originally posted at Bookin' It.]

Ginny Selvaggio, a young woman with Asperger syndrome, finds after her parents' deaths in an accident that she can conjure up the dead by exactly following a recipe written in the dead person's handwriting.  In the process, she learns some family secrets, deals with her grief, and finds out that she is "normal," in her own way, that she can manage her Asperger's and live alone - and in the rest of the world - if she chooses.

Author Jael McHenry is a self-described amateur cook and food (and writing) blogger who was also a high school valedictorian, a semi-finalist in the Jeopardy college tournament, and earner of a masters of fine arts degree in creative writing.  This is her first novel, but it doesn't read like one.

Some years ago I worked with a bright little boy who was diagnosed with Asperger's, and I wondered if McHenry also had that diagnosis or knew someone who did.  No on both counts.  In an excellent guest post at Beyond the Margins, she said,

"I started out researching Asperger’s because this character needed to be isolated by both circumstances and by choice, but I felt like standard shyness or awkwardness wasn’t enough. I’ve always been interested in how other people think, how the human brain works, how we all interpret and misinterpret each other because of what we each separately bring to our interactions. So it wasn’t a stretch for me to wonder if Asperger’s might fit the story I was trying to tell."

McHenry has done an excellent job at portraying the spectrum that is Asperger's, the fact that the condition has a range of manifestations, and, according to her guest post, "there isn’t one pure 'experience of Asperger’s,' the same way there’s no one 'experience' of being a woman or an 'experience' of living in the United States."

Since Ginny is a foodie, just like the author, Ginny uses a lot of food metaphors to describe people and events.  In an interview, McHenry explains,

"Food is the lens through which Ginny sees the whole world....She isn’t comfortable with people, so she filters them through this lens, and everything about them becomes food-related, and that makes her comfortable. A voice like orange juice [or spearmint or espresso]. Someone’s shoulder like the shank end of a ham. There’s a point where she analyzes the color of someone’s skin as 'what other people would call olive,' but because olives are different colors, she has to pin it down to a particular type of olive. It’s another coping mechanism, something she can do internally to deal with the unpleasant external."

The metaphors also help emphasize Ginny' point of view, from which the story is told (in first person).

Most (but not all) chapters begin with a recipe, which also serve as illustrations, since they are printed in different handwriting styles on a recipe-card background.  This is very effective as it ties in well with the plot mechanism of conjuring spirits by making a recipe written in that dead person's hand.

I also LOVED the whole concept of the "Normal Book"!  In another interview, McHenry describes it:

"The Normal Book is a collection of snippets cut out of advice columns that Ginny has pasted into a blank book, phrases and sentences that include the word 'normal.' When you read them all together, there’s this sense that 'normal' is something everyone’s worried about being, but it really has no set meaning. Ginny needs rules and evidence and guidelines to feel comfortable, so the Normal Book was my way of giving her that comfort."

My book club had a great discussion of this book last week.  I made the (yummy and easy) "Midnight Cry Brownies" (a Jael McHenry original, on page 47), which begin chapter 4, the one where the scary and mysterious Evangeline appears.  We talked about the recipes, food blogs (Kitcherati.com does not exist), the food metaphors, the power of food to evoke memories (the "spirit") of a person, dealing with grief, Asperger's, sisters (and parents), and the idea of "normal."  We also talked about the different covers - I love both, the hardbound for the artistic imagery and the paperback for the remembrances of my own and my offspring's childhoods that it evokes).  A lot of fodder in one little book!  The publisher's reading group guide is one of the better ones I've seen.

I will certainly be watching for Jael McHenry's next book.  Five-plus stars for this one!

© Amanda Pape - 2012

[I received a hardbound copy of this book as a gift from a friend.]
3 vote
riofriotex | outras 35 resenhas | Mar 29, 2012 |
THE KITCHEN DAUGHTER by Jael McHenry is an interesting women's fiction. It tells the story of Ginny Selvaggio, a young women who is shy,sheltered,loss her parent's to an unexpected death,finds comfort in the kitchen and has Asperger's syndrome. It has ghosts,cooking,recipes,mystery,family,secrets,living with Asperger's,acceptance,loss,grief,intrigue,love and characters who are compelling along with the delicious almost smelling recipes described throughout this delightful story. "The Kitchen Daughter" is a wonderful story told with a passion for food,cooking and story taleing from a talented debut author. If you read only one debut book this year,read "The Kitchen Daughter" you will not regret your choice. A fast paced story with many layers,characters and a little magic. A must read for any women's fiction readers,anyone who enjoys ghosts,cooking and wonderful receipes than "The Kitchen Daughter" will appeal to you. Received for an honest review from the publisher. Details can found at Gallery Books, a division of Simon & Schuster,Inc. and My Book Addiction and More/My Book Addiction Reviews.



REVIEWED BY: AprilR,My Book Addiction and More/My Book Addiction Reviews½
tarenn | outras 35 resenhas | Feb 5, 2012 |
Ginny has just lost her parents to a tragic accident. She lived with them in a magnificent old home in Philadelphia and was not at all prepared either emotionally or in reality for them to be gone. She is living with undiagnosed Asperger's and her parents had protected her all throughout her life. After the funeral her sister blows in like a tornado trying to take over her life and sell the house and take her away from everything she has ever known. Her sister refuses to accept that Ginny is capable and Ginny refuses to accept that something could be wrong with her.

Ginny's way of coping with stress is to cook; whether in a real kitchen or in her head cooking and recipes soothe her. As she recreates recipes from people in her past she finds she can bring their ghostly presence to a form of life in her kitchen where they bring her messages that help her move forward.

I truly enjoyed this unique tale of Philadelphia, cooking and sisters. I don't have a sister but I have always tried to imagine what it would be like. Cooking is a fantastic way to settle the mind to a task and have a measurable result at the end. The emotional storyline is powerful as the two sisters try to deal with the sudden loss of two very loved parents. As the girls go through the house and pack up their parents' belongings they find lessons in their pasts and secrets that have been hidden for years. Those secrets, had they not been kept might have made significant differences for Ginny but she only learns this too late. But it's not too late to perhaps help her sister when she needs that help the most.

I found myself truly wrapped up in this story in spite of the fantastical aspects. It was a book that packed an emotional punch on many different levels. The sisters had a lot to work out between them and Ginny had some serious growing up to do. The cooking and recipes are an added bonus.½
BooksCooksLooks | outras 35 resenhas | Nov 28, 2011 |
After the unexpected death of her parents, Ginny finds comfort in the sensory experience of cooking. By making specific recipes, she is able to conjure up ghosts that help her understand herself and her connection with others. At the end of the book, there are new relationships and hope for the future. This is a well written book, without the sentimentalizing and stereotyping of folks with Asperger’s syndrome seen that is seen in a lot of books and movies…I thoroughly enjoyed it.
crk-slc | outras 35 resenhas | Oct 8, 2011 |
Originally posted on Read Handed.

Jael McHenry's debut novel, The Kitchen Daughter, revolves around food. The main character, Ginny, uses the routine and rhythm of cooking as a way to escape people - most of whom make her uncomfortable. But, ironically, in the end it is cooking and food that bring her into community with family and new friends. Ginny has undiagnosed Asperger's syndrome and is uncomfortable with touch, noise, and chaos. She is socially awkward and has trouble reading social and emotional cues in the people around her.

Ginny's world turns upside down when both of her parents die unexpectedly from carbon monoxide poisoning. At the get-together after the funeral, Ginny is overwhelmed by good-intentioned friends and relatives and sneaks away to the kitchen. She cooks a batch of her grandmother's ribollita (bread soup) for comfort, and is surprised to see Nonna's ghost appear. She says, "You bring me with the smell of ribollita, and I bring the message. I come to tell you. Do no let her" (pg. 8).

As Ginny puzzles over the message, she discovers that she can bring back any one's ghost by cooking a recipe that person had written in his or her own handwriting. She uses this power to discover more about her family's past and figure out what to do about her sister Amanda's plan to sell their parents' house and have Ginny move in with her and her family.

McHenry does an excellent job getting the reader inside Ginny's head. For example:

"It gets warmer, worse, like they're not just inside the house, they're inside my body. Stomping around on the lining of my stomach. Swinging from my ribs. They're touching everything in the house, pale fingers like nocturnal worms swarming over picture frames and the doorknobs and the furniture, and if they get to me they'll crawl and cluster all over my skin" (pg. 3).

In her narration, Ginny uses food metaphors often, which makes perfect sense given her obsession with cooking and food. She likens voices to flavors - Amanda sounds like orange juice, Nonna like espresso, her mother like spearmint, the housekeeper Gert like poppy seeds. She also tries to express her emotions using food:

"So this is what distraught feels like. It feels like a stomachache. It feels like a firm hand wringing out the paltry juice from a Key lime or a French press squeezing the flavor from coffee grounds. It feels like the air bladder that winemakers use to press the juice from the grapes, which they say is gentle but still presses, presses, presses until all the liquid has leaked out and pooled. I've read about that. It's easy to imagine" (pg. 26).

Oftentimes, food can be a comfort and bring people together. At one point in the story, Gert asks for Ginny's help preparing a meal of consolation for a grieving family in Gert's Jewish community. When Ginny asks why, Gert answers, "But you shouldn't stay [in the house] all the time. You can do more" (pg. 151). Gert understands that healing can come through service to others. Ginny can use her gift - cooking - to help others in her community.
ReadHanded | outras 35 resenhas | Sep 20, 2011 |
Summary: The death of Ginny Selvaggio's parents has left Ginny's world turned upside-down. Overwhelmed by the crush of people at the funeral, and suddenly left alone for the first time in her life, Ginny turns to the familiar rituals of cooking to comfort herself. However, as she makes her grandmother's recipe for ribollita off a time-worn, hand-written recipe card, her grandmother herself appears on a stool in the corner of the kitchen. Ginny's obviously startled - she's never seen a ghost before - but her grandmother only has time for a single cryptic warning before she fades away again: "Do no let her." Ginny's not sure who she's supposed to stop from doing what; maybe she's supposed not supposed to let her brusquely practical sister Amanda sell the only house Ginny's even known? Or is it connected to some secret her parents were keeping, a secret that Ginny is only beginning to uncover now that they're gone?

Review: This book was sneakily, surprisingly wonderful. I love food-centered books, and books with recipes, so I was expecting to love those parts, and the book didn't let me down: the food writing is very evocative, and absolutely brings the smells and the textures and the tastes of Ginny's kitchen to life. (I've only tried one of the recipes so far - the Georgia Peach cocktail - but it is dangerously delicious.) But the whole food-summoning-ghosts thing is only a part of this novel, and maybe not even the biggest part, and the wonderfulness of all the rest was what really surprised me.

Ginny is a wonderful narrator, immediately recognizable (at least to me) and intensely sympathetic. I loved the view into the ways her mind worked, her ways of coping with a suddenly unfamiliar and hostile world, the contrast between the forms taken by her grief vs. that of her sister. The strong connection I felt with Ginny made this book incredibly touching; I cried more than a little when she finally got her last reunion with - and chance to say goodbye to - her parents.

But most of all, I really appreciated the fact that despite the pressure from her sister, and from the world at large, Ginny refused to give in and see herself as broken or strange. The message that there's no such thing as normal struck a strong chord with me, and I think it's one that's applicable not just to people with (or people who know people with) Asperger's, but to anyone who's ever felt isolated or misunderstood. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Definitely worth a read for anyone who likes food-based fiction - there's more than a touch of Like Water For Chocolate about it - but it also should appeal to folks who liked The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, or anyone who likes compelling contemporary fiction told from a unique point of view.½
fyrefly98 | outras 35 resenhas | Sep 12, 2011 |
From Lilac Wolf and Stuff:

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 mark...it 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.
lilacwolf | outras 35 resenhas | Sep 9, 2011 |
This book is about a young lady with Aspergers, with the sudden death of her parents, her sheltered life is changed and with her sister urging her to sell her parents home she becomes frantic. What keeps her together is her passion for food and her Normal book. Through cooking she conjures up ghost and her life goes on a journey of twists and turns.
roxymadtparty | outras 35 resenhas | Sep 9, 2011 |