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BLOG TOUR & REVIEW: The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry


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.

About the Author

Jael McHenry is a talented and enthusiastic amateur cook who blogs about food and cooking at the SIMMER blog, She is a monthly pop culture columnist and Editor-in-Chief of Intrepid Media, online at 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.


  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery; Original edition (April 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781439191699
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439191699


Ginny can't interact with people normally, but she truly comes alive through her cooking.  It "normalizes" her like nothing else and even reading the recipes calms her and puts her mind in order like nothing else since she has Aperger's Syndrome.  After Ginny's parents die suddenly, her sister Amanda (Demanda) decides to sell the only home Ginny has ever known.  Ginny also has a special gift:  she can raise spirits from the recipes they left behind.  Using this gift, Ginny tries to unravel family secrets by asking the ghosts themselves for help.  Amanda has her reasons for the move, but seems to discard Ginny's feelings about moving from her home and security.

This is just such an amazing read.  It reminded me of a cross between Jodi Picoult and Sarah Addison Allen and a bit of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime.  I really enjoyed how McHenry weaved in her love of cooking through out the story.  Most of the start off with a copy of a recipe and they lead into the story for that chapter.  I thought Ginny was such a great character and that Amanda made an excellent foil for her.  It was nice to Ginny come into her own at the end. 


  1. I enjoyed reading nice post! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Your blog is amazing! Thank you for the warm welcome over at Book Blogs! I've added your blog to my blog list!


  3. Sounds like a cool read! I'll check if the library has it.


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