This is the stack of books I've been working my way through lately. Three down, three to go... As I've said many times before, I need to find a few more hours in my day. So many good books, so little time!!
The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry is the story of a young woman with Asperger's. From the book jacket: "After the unexpected death of her parents, shy and sheltered Ginny Selvaggio, a young woman with Asperger's syndrome seeks comfort in the kitchen, away from her well-meaning but interfering relatives and her domineering sister, Amanda. The methodical chopping, slicing, and stirring soothe her anxiety, and the rich aroma of ribollita, painstakingly recreated from her Italian grandmother's recipe, calms her senses. But it also draws an unexpected visitor: the ghost of Nonna herself, bearing a cryptic warning in rough English, "Do no let her," before vanishing like steam from a cooling dish."
Ginny continues to spend time in the kitchen to escape her grief and her uncertain future. Her sister is adamant that they will sell the house and Ginny will come to live with her. Ginny has other ideas. She does not understand her sister's concern
for her safety and her immaturity in dealing with everyday life situations, her inability to live independently. Sheltered by her parents, she has never had to cope with the day to day business of life and its stresses, but thinks she is quite capable... she considers herself "normal", and is, in fact, somewhat obsessed with the whole concept of "what is normal"... Food is her coping mechanism; she turns to it to try and hold on to the past, even though she knows she must move forward.
I enjoyed this book, it held my attention. I didn't know a lot about Asperger's but found Ginny's character easy to like. (Upon finishing this book, I added Jodi Picoult's House Rules to my "to read" pile.) Although I could certainly identify with Amanda's concerns for Ginny's future and independence, I couldn't help but root for Ginny. The addition of recipes (and some great food metaphors) made the book even more enjoyable.You 'll laugh and you may even shed a few tears, and for sure you'll think about "what IS normal, anyway?"
"Reading fiction is important. It is a vital means of imagining a life other than our own, which in turn makes us more empathetic beings. Following complex story lines stretches our brains beyond the 140 characters of sound-bite thinking, and staying within the world of a novel gives us the ability to be quiet and alone, two skills that are disappearing faster than the polar icecaps." ~ Ann Patchett, "And the Winner Isn't..." NY Times 4/17/12