About the Book:
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 from a cooling dish.
A haunted kitchen isn’t Ginny’s only challenge. Her domineering sister, Amanda, (aka “Demanda”) insists on selling their parents’ house, the only home Ginny has ever known. As she packs up her parents’ belongings, Ginny finds evidence of family secrets she isn’t sure how to unravel. She knows how to turn milk into cheese and cream into butter, but she doesn’t know why her mother hid a letter in the bedroom chimney, or the identity of the woman in her father’s photographs. The more she learns, the more she realizes the keys to these riddles lie with the dead, and there’s only one way to get answers: cook from dead people’s recipes, raise their ghosts, and ask them.
Jael McHenry is a talented and enthusiastic amateur cook who blogs about food and cooking at the SIMMER blog, https://simmerblog.com. She is a monthly pop culture columnist and Editor-in-Chief of Intrepid Media, online at intrepidmedia.com. Her work has appeared in publications such as the North American Review, Indiana Review, and the Graduate Review at American University, where she earned her MFA in Creative Writing. She lives in New York City.
Connect with Jael:
On her website, jaelmchenry.com
On her blog, the SIMMER blog
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 this novel having Asperger’s. I was blown away! I actually felt myself drawn completely into Ginny’s character-actually felt the things she did as she experienced the deaths of both her parents, and then her overbearing sister, Amanda. I’ve seen first hand that people with Asperger’s deal with coping with life in so many different ways. Some withdraw into themselves, others reach out to others, and then there are the Ginny’s of Asperger’s: coping by doing something they love and enjoy. In Ginny’s case, she cooks. She becomes the kitchen daughter.
Yes, Ginny turns to cooking to cope. However, there’s a unique twist to Ginny’s cooking. She cooks up the recipes deceased owners! Where do ghosts fit into this seemingly moving and serious debut? In the hand written recipes that Ginny uses to cook her food….she brings their spirits back as she conjures up the food :-).
I highly recommend this debut novel. Not having Asperger’s myself, but seeing and knowing someone who does have it, I am pleased at how well McHenry portrayed the different aspects of Asperger’s. She hit the nail dead on with this four star worthy debut. I would definitely read this novel again and again. A wonderful (and with recipes included might I add-delicious!) novel about finding your true self, no matter what, and embracing life full on.