A young woman is forced into unexpected territory when she is packed off to a vividly imagined, shimmering Spanish countryside in order to conceal an unexpected pregnancy.
Provided by her mother with only the barest of details about a couple that wishes to adopt her baby, Kenzie finds herself an unofficial apprentice in the kitchen of the home of a successful bull breeder connected to the prospective adoptive parents— a world away from where the talented filmmaker expected to be following her high school graduation. In an introspective first-person narration, Kenzie's story effortlessly unfolds. Her initially strained relationship with terse Estela, the marvelous chef charged with her safekeeping, eventually melts into a mutual trust. Readers will sympathize deeply with Kenzie’s emptiness over her father's death, which led the way to a loving but uncommitted relationship with her baby's father, a longtime friend. Parallel to Estela's history is a tale set against Franco's rule, which poignantly serves to help Kenzie sort through her numbed confusion. Characters are never simple in this gorgeous landscape so masterfully described by National Book Award–finalist Kephart; fully engaging in their lives—touched as they are by gypsies and bullfighters and the tragedy of war—will require an audience that is willing to be swept up by unfettered romanticism.
Lovely and unusual—at once epic and intimate. (Fiction. 13 & up)