The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry

Summary/Cover Image from Publisher's Website:
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.

The Kitchen Daughter is a book I've been looking forward to reading for a while now. It looked unique, and even though I don't enjoy cooking nearly as much as Ginny does, I am a foodie in some ways so this book looked perfect for me. Thankfully, I really enjoyed it!

Ginny has had a lot happen to her in the last week or so. For one, after a freak accident, her parents are dead, and while this would be a shock for anyone, it's especially so to Ginny, because due to her Asperger syndrome and her sheltered upbringing, her parents have been her rock for the past twenty-six years. Secondly, she's begun to see ghosts while cooking, ghost of past family members and friends who talk to her and tell her some surprising family history that cause more loose ends than closure. Lastly, her younger sister, Amanda, wants Ginny to move in with her and her family, but Ginny doesn't want to leave. She reasons she can take care of herself that she can find a job and thrive on her own, but her sister doesn't see the truth in this. Now Ginny is left to find a way to make her sister believe this before it's too late... Will she be able to? Only time and more pages can tell in this fabulous new adult fiction read!

Ginny was a character I enjoyed reading about from the get go. It was always interesting to see how Jael used Ginny’s blunt and shy nature as well as her Asperger syndrome to develop and evolve her character in a realistic way. Best of all, I liked how Ginny didn't let any of that set her back from dreams. Instead, she fought for what she believed in, even if it meant a little extra work on her part. I also enjoyed the additional characters of Gert and David, because not only did they bring more heart to the novel, but they also played an essential part in Ginny's story as she did in theirs.

The Kitchen Daughter was in no way a sitting-on-the-edge-of-your-seat type book. Instead, it moved at a pleasant and slow pace that allowed for more character and relationship development than plot development, and I have to say I really enjoyed that. At the heart of this novel, it's about moving on, self-discovery, family ties, and what it means to be a good friend- all those themes tied into making this a fantastic book. I always liked seeing Ginny creating a relationship with her overbearing sister and sweet nieces as well as new friends, and best of all, seeing Ginny come out of her shell one-step at a time. Ginny's cooking storyline was also lots of fun- not only because of recipes that McHenry provided, but also because of the way she created a bit of mystery to the story through the ghosts and allowed yet another way for Ginny to become comfortable with herself.

Lastly, Jael McHerny's writing in this was another great addition due to the rich development she put into her characters and the way she brought the story to life. While the ending was bittersweet, I still really enjoyed it.

Well written and enthralling, The Kitchen Daughter is a book I highly suggest to fans of adult fiction and older teens.

Grade: B+

The Kitchen Daughter is now out!

Source: Publicity firm/publisher- thanks Kathleen and Simon and Schuster!

To find out more about Jael and her books, check out her website


  1. A pleasant pace is always good for me, and this one sounds quite interesting. Great review :)

  2. This one sounds like a great one, a slow paced story can be nice sometimes :)


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