Twenty-eight-year-old Ginny Selvaggio’s parents have just passed away unexpectedly, leaving Ginny and her older sister Amanda reeling. Ginny, an incredibly shy and sheltered person who shows signs of Aspergers, retreats into herself and her cooking to cope with her pain, while Amanda focuses on trying to take care of Ginny by forcing her to move out of their parents’ home and in with Amanda and her family. Ginny is convinced that she should stay in the house, and a warning from her deceased grandmother helps cement this belief in her mind. But she needs to work on figuring out how she fits into the continuum of “normal” and, more than that, how she can convince her sister that she is normal enough to live her own life.
The Kitchen Daughter is an incredibly charming novel, one that I truly enjoyed every minute I spent with it. While the novel deals with the very sad topic of losing one’s parents, McHenry handles the topic with finesse and her characters really shine. She takes what would ordinarily be a depressing story and makes it the complete opposite of depressing – very hopeful and positive.
The biggest strength of The Kitchen Daughter, in my opinion, is the fact that McHenry created fully realized, interesting characters, characters I felt that I really got to know by the time the book was over. Ginny is the kind of character the reader can’t help but love. She is introverted and shy, sure, but she has a quirky charm that will win over any reader. I loved reading as she came to better understand herself, her disorder, but most specifically, watching her overcome it. The entire book was a journey to her realizing that nobody is “normal”, and that the things about her that were different were important parts of her overall personality.
I can’t help but love a foodie book, and The Kitchen Daughter really fits that mold. The descriptions of the food Ginny cooked were to die for and I could have happily jumped into the book and sat down to a delicious meal with her. While this isn’t your ordinary foodie book – it has tons of depth – the food parts were done so well and reading about Ginny’s cooking literally made my mouth water.
The Kitchen Daughter is a beautiful novel about the power food has in the healing process, and also about one woman’s journey to self-awareness. The characters come alive on the page, as does the cooking! I highly recommend this read.