From the Kitchen of Half-Truth by Maria Goodin
SourceBooks, 2013; 342 pp
Reviewed by Juliana Amir
I’m the first to admit, deciphering text through fat tears is not something I normally inflict on myself, yet I picked up From the Kitchen of Half Truth and refused to let it go. Meg May has come home to spend one final summer with her ailing mother, Val, but she has another motive—to uncover the truth.
What I loved about this book is precisely what is driving Meg out of her own mind—her mother’s stories. Stories infused with magical realism, but Meg’s problem is that these tales are all she knows of her childhood. When her boyfriend Mark asks her about the scar on her forehead, and she says, “That’s where I was bitten by a crab cake…” we understand Meg’s predicament.
Her mother, a fanatic cook, has found solace in these tales of crab cakes, but Meg prides herself on being a scientist who upholds logic and truth. At times, Meg’s need to be sensible led to rounds of rhetorical questions that slowed the pace, but the mystery of the past kept me invested. Meg cannot believe her mother about anything—not even about the taste of real love:
“A bolt of lightening shot across the sky, leaving crackling electricity in its wake. A nightingale burst into song, and a glittering cloud of stardust engulfed us both. He tasted of cinnamon and strawberries…afterward, when I licked my lips, I found they were…covered in sugar.”
To me this book is stunning due to Goodin’s hypnotic detail that reads like poetry. The passages of magical realism were beyond compare and will leave you longing to live in Val’s world…or at least venture to your local bakery.