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Mark B. (Jackson, MI)
Mouse Proof Kitchen
Being a special needs person, this book spoke to me as it gave a glimmer of memory to what my parents went through in raising me. I found the book easy to read and could relate to the struggles of the parents in raising a special needs child. The book will tug at your heart-strings as well as cause you to look at your own prejudices when encountering special needs people. I highly recommend the book for those who live with a special needs child or for those looking for a heart-tugging read.
Nikki M. (Fort Wayne, IN)
This was much harder to read than I thought it would be. Very tough subject matter, especially if you know someone in a similar situation. I would recommend, but be prepared to shed a few tears...
Beverly J. (Huntersville, NC)
This heart-tugging emotional story told in a memoir-like format is intimately introspective, brutally honest yet deliciously warm with dollops of life-affirming humor. The narrator is Anna, a chef who loves order and this is accomplished by planning out her life dreams. Her partner is Tobias, a charming musician who is more carefree in his approach to life. But they are soon in a spot that stops them in their tracks – daughter Freya is born with profound disabilities. Anna worries what if she does not love Freya enough; Tobias worries what if we do, while an impulse buy of run-down animal infested farmhouse further challenges the couple's past and future commitments. A glimpse into the healthcare systems of Britain and France and alternatives for disabled children was enlightening. This touching story of love, family, and loyalty is enhanced by a cast of eccentric secondary characters.
Mary P. (Bellingham, WA)
Mouse-Proof Kitchen by Saira Shah
I thoroughly enjoyed this book with its intelligent, idiosyncratic characters, and its descriptions of Provence. The main character, it can be argued as the plot and characters revolve around her, is Freya, the infant daughter of Anna and Tobias. Freya is born severely disabled; she will be child-like the rest of her life and require constant care. Her mother, a gourmet cook, had other plans--perfect child, perfect home, every detail dovetailed with another. How will she cope? How will her husband respond? They go ahead with their plans and relocate to Provence to perhaps start a restaurant or cooking school. But, like the plans for her family, life doesn't follow Anna's prescription for it. This book poses questions for a reader--how would I respond? What would I do with a situation that will not go away and can't be denied?
Karen L. (Chicago, IL)
The Mouse Proof KItchen
Shah infuses her book with love, caring, humor, and humility for all her characters, Anna, Tobias, Freya, Anna's mother, and the miscellaneous idiosyncratic people they attract.
I really wanted to like this book. It covers so many subjects I generally enjoy reading about; the French Countryside, cooking, and relationships. Like Anna I anticipated perfection, only to be handed something different than planned. was not perfect, in fact severely disabled. I found this novel both unrealistic and heartbreaking. Unbelievably, They follow their original, pre-diagnosis plan and move to a rodent infested, decrepit home in the south of France. What could they be thinking raising a severely disabled child or really any child in such a potentially dangerous situation is beyond the scope of my imagination. While it did evoke many emotions, none of them was positive. I acknowledge it is a difficult subject and I applaud the author for her attempt at tackling it, I believe it will anger most audiences and therefore not appeal to the mass market.
Beverly K. (Lockport, IL)
Strange title, fascinating story
Saira Shah's debut novel gives you a lot to think about-- how do we define unconditional love and does becoming a mother automatically make you feel unconditional love for your child, especially a challenging child. I found this book warm, touching and, at some points, difficult to read without crying. Ms. Shah paints beautiful, detailed descriptions of the couples remote home in France and the locals who grow to become such vital characters in the story. I found this book hard to put down.
Anna S. (Auburn, AL)
The Mouse-Proof Kitchen
Anna is a super-organized, trained chef who has her and her husband's perfect life all planned: they will live in Provence, she will have a restaurant, and he will be a successful musician. Then real life interferes when she gives birth to a severely disabled child. What ensues is the story of their coming to grips with their less-than-perfect life in the form of a rundown farmhouse far from Provence, a series of quirky neighbors, and a child requiring far more care than either parent feels equipped to give. My only quibbles are that some of the situations seem a bit contrived, and a couple of Anna's actions seem out of character. All in all, a good read.
Susan J. (Twain Harte, CA)
I missed the "humor and warmth"
I was surprised to read that the author has a daughter like Freya. She describes Anna's and Tobias's behaviors as "outrageous"; I found them to be immature, impulsive, irresponsible. Anna is described as a planner; I would say she's a dreamer. Moving away from her support system with a severely disabled newborn, buying a disaster of a property, hoping to open a restaurant or cooking school, expecting her partner to become what he is not…all examples of her poor judgment. Yes, their world was turned upside down by Freya's birth, but their responses were frustrating to me. I did enjoy the setting of the book, the descriptions of the area, the hostile weather and terrain, and the interesting local characters, but my lack of sympathy for the main characters overrode my enjoyment of the story and the setting. And I kept wanting to know why they didn't get a cat in the first place!