Gail B. (Albuquerque, NM)
Opportunity to learn
Being completely ignorant of Asperger's syndrome, I stepped into Jael McHenry's book totally unaware. As the characters unfolded and my understanding developed, I was pleased to learn about this family and then discover how many famous people, from Beethoven to Bob Dylan, probably have been victims of it. Books with recipes have always been fun and especially since food is such a key element, really added to the texture of the story. Thanks for the opportunity to learn.
Linda S. (Burlingame, CA)
The Kitchen Daughter
It took me a few chapters before I started enjoying this book about a young woman whose parents recently died. I felt manic reading the heroine's behaviour (Asperger's Syndrome) in the beginning but I finally realized this was how the character felt all the time. The parts with ghosts and magic realism were wonderful but they did not continue through the book which I would have wanted - because the mystery, to me, was never answered. Despite the quirks, the writer has a wonderful sense of humor and the ending was touching.
Ruth O. (Downingtown, PA)
Interesting view of Asperger's Syndrome
‘The Kitchen Daughter’ explores the world of a young woman who most likely has Asperger’s syndrome, which is on the autism spectrum, and how she emotionally reacts after her parents suddenly pass away. It is evident from the first pages that her personality is unlike that of so-called ‘normal’ persons, and developments throughout the book support this observation. One of her coping mechanisms when distressed is cooking, hence the title of the book. There are some supernatural aspects to the story, which in general I dislike, but these events fit well into the storyline. I enjoyed the book, although it didn’t ‘grab’ me and it took me some time to finish it since I was able to put it down. It did interest me enough to find out more about Asperger’s and other autistic disorders, and I’d recommend it especially to readers who would be interested in a first-person view of Asperger’s.
Jinny K. (Fremont, CA)
Sweet, but far-fetched
I did enjoy some aspects of this book and would certainly be on the lookout for future works by this author. However, I don't generally read sci-fi or fantasy, so the weaving of the spirit world into an otherwise down-to-earth story didn't seem congruous to me.
I also think the recipe-within-novel device has gotten pretty tired.
The characters were beautifully drawn and well maintained throughout the novel. Especially touching was the relationship between Ginny and her sister. The interior monologue of the protagonist was extraordinary and I really felt that I was living her life for a time.
Overall, a good read and I was left wishing it were a little longer.
Marcia F. (Batavia, IL)
"The Kitchen Daughter"
"The Kitchen Daughter" is not a difficult read; as a matter of fact it can easily be read, completed and enjoyed in one sitting. However, I enjoyed it best by only reading several chapters at a time, thereby, savoring all that I had just read. I am an avid cook and really enjoyed everything described in food terms as well as the recipes (several I have made - delicious)! Being a Hospice volunteer, I related to Ginny's, Amanda's, David's and Gert's grief. This book will be an excellent read for Book Clubs as there are so many different directions the discussions can go. I really enjoyed reading "The Kitchen Daughter".
Cindy M. (W. Reading, PA)
Jael McHenry creates an unlikely heroine in a socially awkward younger sister who, after the death of her parents, needs to adapt to the new terms of life laid before her. As she and her sister sift through their parents possessions, she comes to understand them and herself in new ways. The conflicts that emerge forge new relationships with her sister and those around her. This is a magical and heartwarming coming-of-age story not without its sad moments. You will want to have a full pantry when you read this. McHenry's descriptions of cooking, the recipes, the scents, and preparation will lead you straight to your own kitchen.
Paula F. (Atlanta, GA)
Echoes of The Little Giant of Aberdeen County
The Kitchen Daughter is ultimately a story that questions what, or who, is normal and who has the right to make that determination. It suggests that all of us are wounded in one way or another. Ginny Selvaggio, a young woman with Asperger's Syndrome forced to deal with life after her sheltering parents die unexpectedly, reminds me of Truly Plaice, the title character in Tiffany Baker's The Little Giant of Aberdeen County. Both realize that they are different from others, both have more "normal" sisters, and both have mystical powers. The Kitchen Daughter is very well written and would make a good book club selection. I would also recommend it to anyone who enjoyed Little Giant.