Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Kitchen Daughter

My goal is to read 100 books by the end of 2013.  I just finished book 32.

The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry

This fiction novel is told from the point of view of Ginny, a 26 year old woman who recently lost her parents in an accident.  Although the reader can tell Ginny is on the autism spectrum, it's not something she knows about herself (she was extremely sheltered by her parents; she knows she's different but was always told it was "personality").  She withdraws and falls back on her comforting ritual:  cooking.  But her cooking brings unexpected surprises - the ghosts of her relatives, giving her cryptic warnings that she must unravel as she learns to cope with the many changes in her life.

My opinion:
This was our book club selection this month, and I had no idea what to expect when I started this very quick read.  The description doesn't capture the essence of the book for me, which was a young woman trying to make sense of her life when everything she knew and depended on was gone.  That aspect of the story was absorbing; living the interactions through Ginny's eyes made my heart break a little, and I just wanted to shake her sister and tell her to stop trying to "normalize" Ginny.  My strong reaction was definitely shaped by my personal experiences with "quirky" people and the overwhelming sadness I feel when people aren't accepted for who they are.
The ghosts and the mystery added interest and were necessary to move the story along.  For me, what pulled me out of the story and caused me to like but not love the book was the self-discovery Ginny made over the course of the book.  Can I suspend disbelief for ghosts?  Sure.  Can I suspend disbelief for the amount of progress and awareness Ginny gained?  Apparently not.  Strange, but it's how I feel.

Quote from the book:
"Difficult, but not impossible.  I am not impossible." ~ Ginny

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