Jael McHenry

The information superhighway has bridged oceans, united diverse voices, and placed virtual libraries in the palm of your hand. It’s the age of connection, when reaching out to strangers through chatrooms, forums, blogs and other forms of social media such as Twitter, is not only common, it’s expected. This week in #litchat we’re discussing connections and how they inform our reading choices, our writing practices, and the way we interact with other people.

On Friday, April 22, #litchat welcomes Jael McHernry, author of the recently released novel, The Kitchen Daughter. In this brilliant debut, McHenry brings us a sheltered young woman with Asperger’s Syndrome, whose struggle for independence following the death of her parents is a poignant buffet of surprises. McHenry’s protagonist, Ginny, has difficulty connecting with people, but can connect with the dead when cooking from their handwritten recipes.

The invoking of ghosts puts one in mind of horror or other spine-chilling scenarios, but don’t expect screams and wails and rattling of chains in this high concept literary novel. The real story within The Kitchen Daughter is discovery of self, acceptance of family, letting go of and reaching out to others through simple things such as touch, talk, and trust—each an essential element of connection. Read more about The Kitchen Daughter here.

McHenry is a passionate amateur cook who grew up in Michigan and Iowa before moving from city to city along the East Coast: Boston, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and now New York, where she blogs about food and cooking at the Simmer blog. The Kitchen Daughter includes ten of her original recipes, ranging in simple cocktail concoctions to complex ethnic cuisine. McHenry tantalizes readers of The Kitchen Daughter with descriptions of food and its preparation, layering the text with fascinating cooking lore and culinary techniques.

In addition to cooking and writing fiction, McHenry is a monthly pop culture columnist and Editor-in-Chief of Intrepid Media. 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.

Follow Jael McHenry on Twitter: @JaelMcHenry.