Reviewed by Alysia George

Dealing with grief is difficult even for someone with the best of coping skills. But for someone with a disorder such as Asperger’s Syndrome, grieving is an even more complicated and difficult process. Being undiagnosed, confused, and overwhelmed combine to make dealing with loss all the more unbearable.

Ginny, the main character in The Kitchen Daughter, by Jael McHenry, is used to being protected and coddled by her well-intentioned parents. She clearly has a disorder but has never been diagnosed or treated. When both of her parents die quite suddenly and unexpectedly, Ginny is on her own for the first time in her life.

As she struggles to deal with the death of the two most important people in her life, Ginny is shocked and traumatized even more with the realization that she may have Asperger’s Syndrome. Food and cooking have always been Ginny’s coping mechanism, and as she dives into her recipe collection for comfort, she finds that she is able to summon ghosts as she cooks. The ghosts bring a mystery that is further complicated when Ginny finds an old letter that has been hidden for years and several pictures of a woman she doesn’t recognize. Ginny is compelled to solve the mystery her parents left behind, and at the same time discovers, little by little, how to realize her new dream of independence.

Once I started this book, I couldn’t put it down. I was really drawn into Ginny’s story, and wanted her to succeed. The insider’s view of Asperger’s Syndrome was particularly interesting and gave me a new understanding of what living with this disorder might be like. Ginny’s struggles and frustrations felt very real. I loved that solving the mystery helped Ginny on her quest for self-discovery. My only disappointment was that I didn’t feel the entire reason for the appearances of the ghosts was ever revealed or explained adequately. Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Kitchen Daughter.

Rating: 4/5

Alysia lives in Metro Detroit with her husband and four children. She writes about family life, parenting issues, and other things of interest to her on her blog, Michigal.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Gallery Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.