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The Kitchen Daughter

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3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  3,976 ratings  ·  783 reviews
After the unexpected death of her parents, painfully shy and sheltered 26-year-old Ginny Selvaggio seeks comfort in cooking from family recipes. But the rich, peppery scent of her Nonna’s soup draws an unexpected visitor into the kitchen: the ghost of Nonna herself, dead for twenty years, who appears with a cryptic warning (“do no let her…”) before vanishing like steam fro ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published April 12th 2011 by Gallery Books (first published 2011)
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Nicola Mansfield
Reason for Reading: The main character has Asperger's, as do I, and I make it a habit of reading books that portray Aspies.

First, I'd like to mention that this is as far from my regular type of reading as it gets. I don't *do* women's fiction; no matter what the topic I stay very, very far away from it. But when I was introduced to this book I saw the protagonist was Asperger's and I didn't really pay attention to anything else. I just wanted to read it.

I loved this book with a passion. I read i
...more
Nancy
This is actually my favorite kind of book. It's about something relevant but also about something else much more relevant. It reminds me of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake which is about a girl who feels what people feel when they cook the food. But it's really not. It's about coping skills or it's a little story about growing up...

This book is about Ginny who is 26 years old and has a personality. At least that's what she's always been told. Secretly, Ginny has never been officially diagno
...more
Chachic
Won a copy of this from MangoJuiced. My review is originally posted here.

Ginny has never been good with people – she doesn’t like strangers and she doesn’t like talking to people. She’s not comfortable with physical contact and only allows a handful of people to touch her. She lives with her parents, in the house where she grew up and fills her days with cooking. Food comforts her and that’s what she uses as a coping mechanism. Here’s a sample of the writing and how Ginny uses food to calm herse
...more
Jackie
I would probably rather give this book 3 stars for effort, and only 2 stars for result. I get the sense that Ms. McHenry isn't quite sure what she herself wants this book to be: A "cause" book (informing the public about aspbergers), a book about cooking, a book about relationships, a book about grieving or simply a narrative about life. In any event, I don't think she accomplishes any of these particularly well.

I expected to like this a lot better than I did. And I admit that I stuck with it,
...more
Sally906
I love, love, loved THE KITCHEN DAUGHTER, it was one of those books that you pick up and are unable to put it down willingly for even one minute. Ginny is 26 and still lives at home with her parents, she doesn’t work and never finished university, her parents provide for her. Ginny has all the earmarks of having Asperger’s but has never been diagnosed. Instead her parents encouraged her to depend on them no doubt thinking they were doing the right thing protecting Ginny from distress of knowing ...more
Athira (Reading on a Rainy Day)
After the sudden death of her parents, Ginny is left feeling isolated and unsure of what to do. Her sister, Amanda, is trying to cope with the tragedy in her own way, but she doesn't really know how to look after Ginny, who has Asperger's syndrome. Ginny throws herself into cooking, because nothing else seems to be able to address her intense sadness the way cooking and food does. The first time, she makes a bread soup from a recipe written by her grandmother. Even before she could relish the aw ...more
Pradyuman Mittal
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Melinda
I picked this book up because it looked so interesting and off-beat. The main character and narrator of the book has Asperger's syndrome, is in her "happy place" whenever she is in the kitchen cooking, and discovers she can summon the ghosts of people by cooking the old, hand-written recipes they left behind. Honestly, how quirky is all of that?

It turned out to be more than I expected. The book is a view into the mind of someone with Asperger's (or high-functioning autism) without pigeon-holing
...more
Susan
This book came up in a book group, and I assumed it was "just chick lit" which usually seems to me superficial and silly and which I don't normally read. But since it was a book group selection, I ordered a used copy. Took a lo g time to arrive and was a pretty fast read when it did. And surprisingly insightful.

Ginny and Amanda have recently lost their parents to a freak accident where they were staying on an extended vacation. The story opens at the funeral where Ginny is trying very hard to ho
...more
Dale Harcombe
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Ginny has been sheltered for most of her life by her parents because she has Asperger’s. Then her parents die in an accident and Amanda, Ginny’s sister, wants to sell the family home and have Ginny live with her and her young family. Ginny is resistant to the idea. In her grief she takes comfort in food and makes her Nonna’s recipe. As she cooks it the ghost of Nonna enters the room with a warning for Ginny. Only she doesn’t understand what she it is she is not to ...more
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
The Kitchen Daughter is an insightful and engaging debut by Jael McHenry. Ginny Selvaggio is a young woman whose social awkwardness and literal interpretation of the world has caused difficulties in accomplishing tasks usually associated with maturity. At 26 she still lives at home, doesn't work and relies on her parents to provide for her. Her parents, in particular in her mother, has encouraged Ginny's dependence in what has been a misguided attempt to protect Ginny from distress and judgement ...more
Melissapalmer404
Book #34 Read in 2014
The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry

I read this book in one sitting. It tells the story of Ginny, who seemingly suffers from Asperger's Syndrome, but it has never been diagnosed. Ginny's parents are killed in an accident and Ginny's sister Amanda wants to sell their house because she thinks that Ginny cannot live on her own. The sisters begin a power struggle. As if that is not stressful enough, the gap between the siblings widen when Ginny sees signs of her syndrome in Aman
...more
Jules
This was one of those books that you start reading without really knowing what to expect. The publisher's blurb promised ghostly magic, cooking, an unconventional heroine with Asperger's Syndrome, and a lot of family drama. I wasn't really anticipating learning everything that I did and enjoying the story quite so much. It was a real treat to lose myself in this sweet and uplifting debut novel.

The author has done an amazing job of creating memorable and endearing characters. She has the reader
...more
Stephanie
Ginny, a twenty-something chef-extraordinaire finds solace in her family kitchen as a means of avoiding people (she doesn't like them) and the world around her (she doesn't understand it). 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 famil ...more
Lynn
A favorite book for me! I loved the characterization; each person seemed so real! And I believe the lack of communicative ability was accurately depicted. Or perhaps more accurately, the discomfort with typical interactions would be a more accurate statement/description. Ah, and those family dynamics! How they can change when elder family members are no longer around in everyday life. Ginny can seem much like a defiant teenager, though she really is not, in my opinion. Thanks to her mother she h ...more
Cheryl
Ginny Selvaggio has Asperger’s syndrome. It is a disorder that causes people to not be able to communicate sociably and effectively with other people. Unfortunately, there is no cure currently. For this reason, Ginny is very protected by her older sister, Amanda. When Ginny and Amanda’s parents die, Ginny seeks solace within the confines of the kitchen. There Ginny finds old recipes. She takes to trying them out. The first one is a recipe for the “Best Ribollita”. The recipe was Ginny’s Italian ...more
Cathy
I loved this book and couldn't put it down until I finished it. Ginny's voice is so fresh and different from the average female protagonist. I have read several nonfiction books about Asperger's and felt McHenry did an excellent job portraying a young woman with that syndrome. Ginny had Asperger's but the book became more about her acceptance of herself and reaching out to others in her life so that they would accept her as well.

I am not a particularly good chef, I'm more of a baker, but I love
...more
Tomi
What a wonderful read given April is National Autism Awareness Month and the central character in this well written novel suffers from Asperger's Syndrome. The story, told from Ginny's point of view, is like a Sixth Sense/Ghost Whisperer type of tale. Ginny has a gift of contacting the dead via her cooking. Author Jael does a superb job mixing food and mystique to create a deliciously written novel.


Ginny's sister, Amanda, is very controlling and limits Ginny to her autism. However, cooking "nor
...more
Asami Takagi
Overall, I enjoyed Jael McHenry’s novel. McHenry adds a dash of the supernatural, a pinch of love, and creates a delicious and enticing novel. This is my favorite kind of novel because the author takes a relatable event, like one’s parents passing, and makes it unique. Most of all, I appreciate her response to a modern issue -- finding the definition of normal. The main character struggles to define the true meaning of normal and, in turn, defines herself as normal. However, McHenry fails to exp ...more
Nymeria
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan
"I love a good ghost story. This book has plenty of ghosts. How they appear is what is really interesting. Ginny Selvaggio is a 26 year old who lives with her parents. They are both killed in a car crash. She is left alone. One day as she is cooking her Nonna's soup from her hand written recipe, Nonna appears and gives her the warning..."Don't let her...." then she disappears. Amanda is her sister who wants to sell their parents house and force Ginny to move in with her family. She later finds o ...more
Brian
This book was surprisingly deeper than I had expected. A woman loses her mother and father at the same time and must deal with the grief. But she also has autism, is obsessed with cooking, and can talk to ghosts. Yes, that's an odd combo of events, but it ends up being a very well written, deep novel with some shocking twists and turns. I was very surprised by the ending, in a good way. I would recommend this book to someone who likes family drama as well as stories that involve food!
Barbara Zimmer
I don't think this book should be classified as "chick lit" at all! Yes, it is about a young woman, but this is not a typical "chick lit" book. It has a lot more going for it than the simplistic Girl Who Meets a Boy kind of book! It is about a girl who knows she is different but who desperately wants to convince herself that there are lots of different kinds of "normal". She has trouble interacting with people and comforts herself by thinking about food -- how to cook it, how it changes when you ...more
Terri Suda
Loved it. One more good book down! Read this for my Tuesday Night Girl's Club discussion which is tonight. Looking forward to talking about it with the gals. I made the shortbread recipe in the book for the discussion - one batch with real butter, the other dairy free - yummo! Recipe worked perfectly.
Megan
The Kitchen Daughter is masterfully written and full of surprises, I was caught up in all the cooking and the idea of being able to bring back the dead when using their recipes. Interesting.
Melissa
This story is told from Ginny's POV who has Asperger's Syndrome. She was never diagnosed so her parents did the best that they knew how in bringing her up. Unfortunately her mother protected her so much that she became isolated and really didn't learn how to deal with people in society. Her father also tried to protect her from knowing that there was anything different about Ginny. Even so, she knows she is not like everyone else and found ways of coping with extreme anxiety by cooking. Even jus ...more
Molly
Apr 24, 2011 Molly rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Molly by: TLC
This is not your average, everyday novel. No, far from it. This debut is filled with emotions-all kinds (sadness, happiness, confusion, coping), humor, and lots of recipes. Jael McHenry is an author who, continuing to write novels like this, will rise to the top quickly. She drew me in to the instantly. I started it on a Tuesday evening and was done by Wednesday night.

I don't have Asperger's, but I've known some people who do, and I was really interested in seeing how Ginny was portrayed in thi
...more
Irina
The Kitchen Daughter was a fast and easy read. I enjoyed it but didn't love it so I gave it a 3 -for the effort - out of 5 rating.

The concept of food handling as a mean of reaching or bringing out the departed is not new and although this story approached it from a different perspective -Ginny's Asperger's- it still didn't pull me in as I thought it would and should have although the elements were there, the cryptic message from the dead relatives, their ghosts appearing when she cooked their ha
...more
Gwyneth Stewart
This is one of my remainder table finds. I love shopping the remainder table at my local bookstore, searching out books that didn't hit the best seller's list, but still might be interesting. This book is a perfect example of why I like shopping the remainder table. It's a first novel, and a truly original take on family, cooking, ghosts, and the things that bind us together. The main character, Ginny, and her sister Amanda, have just lost their parents. Both of them are still in their 20's, but ...more
Sandy
What exactly is normal? Are you normal because you fit into societies shell or are you normal because you don’t cause waves? Ginny has always lived with her parents and had been taken care of by them until an accident killed her parents. Believing that nothing would change, Ginny continues on her “don’t touch me, can’t look at you, I have specific rules to follow” daily life. Now enters Amanda, Ginny’s older sister who feels that Ginny cannot handle the demands of living on her own and must now ...more
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Jael McHenry is a talented and enthusiastic amateur cook who grew up in Michigan and Iowa before moving from city to city along the East Coast: Boston, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and now New York, where she blogs about food and cooking at the Simmer blog, http://simmerblog.typepad.com. She is a monthly pop culture columnist and Editor-in-Chief of Intrepid Media, online at intrepidmedia.com. H ...more
More about Jael McHenry...
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“In my life I've had good days and bad days. Miserable days. Painful days. And no matter how bad the bad ones get, there's a mercy in them. Every single one of them ends.” 23 likes
“There is no normal. There's only what's right for you and being honest.” 9 likes
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