JULIA’S KITCHEN by Brenda A. Ferber
Kirkus Star


Age Range: 9 - 12
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Every time 11-year-old Cara worries about something, it turns out fine. She feels like God’s little helper, until a faith-shattering tragedy occurs. Cara’s house catches fire; her dad gets out, but her mom and younger sister Janie don’t. Overcome with guilt and sorrow because she had stayed overnight at a friend’s house, and with her grieving dad unable to comfort her, Cara clings to family memories but feels that God has abandoned her—or is it the other way around? Relatives, friends and the school social worker try to help, but it’s the discovery of her mom’s cookie recipes from her catering business (“Julia’s Kitchen”) that enables Cara to reincarnate the spirit of her mother and assuage her heartache. When she impulsively accepts a phone order, pretending to be Julia, she finds that baking brings her comfort and acceptance of the message that, “life is a journey, not a destination.” More spiritual than religious in tone, some details seem convenient but the emotions are real, the protagonist empathetic and the resolution believable. Family bonds, Jewish traditions and overcoming grief to reconnect with life are deftly braided in this poignant story, just like the challah on Friday nights. (Hebrew/Yiddish glossary, recipe) (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 13th, 2006
ISBN: 0-374-39932-8
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2006


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