The Glass Kitchen - Linda Francis Lee

I’m Mrs. Take-away. I don’t see the point in cooking and I honestly think that modern day’s obsession with cooking and food is absurd and freaky.

However, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m also the girl that picks books purely on their cover and thus I ended up reading the book The Glass Kitchen (really Emma, you missed the word Kitchen in the title?) by Linda Francis Lee. I requested this book via Netgalley, because I loved the cover so much.

The Glass Kitchen is the story of Portia and Ariel – a story that intertwines at several points during the plot.

Portia is a newly divorced Texan woman who moves to New York City to find herself again. She lives in the townhouse her great aunt used to own – she lives on the garden floor while her sisters, Olivia and Cordelia, used to own the other two floors. However, the sisters sold their part of the house, so Portia unwantedly becomes a neighbor of Gabriel, a handsome, but very cold, businessman.

Gabriel is a widower with two daughters – Ariel and Miranda. The story of the family focuses on 12-year-old Ariel, who is struggling with the move to New York (the family used to live in New Jersey) and the teenage escapades of her sister (who is 16). And mostly with the fact that she was in the car crash that killed her mother.

As if that’s not enough plot, there’s an interesting twist to the story. Portia has “the knowing”, which is a family trait that allows her to see the food people will need before they actually need it. For example, Miranda runs into the house needing 20 cupcakes for a bake sale and Portia already made them, though she didn’t know why. Olivia’s grandmother used to have the trait, which is why her restaurant The Glass Kitchen in Texas was so successful. Imagine walking into a place and them always having the food you love? As a Mrs Take-away – I’ll sign up for that.

That’s where the story starts and slowly the characters develop and have to figure out how to survive, both financially and emotionally after the traumatic event of an unexpected divorce or the death of a mother, in the case of Ariel.

What I liked about this book is that Portia is not your typical Texan narrator – yes, she likes to cook and yes she wears sparkly clothes every now and then, but she’s feisty and actually doesn’t want to hook up with her neighbor for a very long time. Same goes for Ariel, who is not the typical 12 year old narrator. She’s smarter than most girls her age, which saves the book from not falling in between the young adult and adult category – it’s definitely adult, even when Ariel narrates. “The knowing” brings in an original element to the book, which differentiates it from most chick lit like books. It also causes for quite a few surprising turns and twists in the book, which is always a plus in my eyes.

What bothered me about this book is the development of Miranda. Miranda is 16, the older sister of Ariel, and is very clearly struggling with the death of her mother. However, the author portrays her as an annoying brat who is acting out in every way possible. But WHY? Nobody knows and at times, I even wondered if the author really knows why Miranda is acting the way she does.

She hangs out with bad friends, smokes weed and throws parties even though she’s not allowed to do that. As a reader, we hear repeatedly how good she was back in New Jersey and how the move made her upset. Really? The move? I think the death of the mother could have come back in here and I really missed this part of the story.

Besides that though, it is a good read. I feel like the lack of Miranda character development really left a gaping hole in the plot, but for any cooking lovers, this will be a fun and enjoyable read. And even if you don’t enjoy cooking, like me, you can still enjoy this book and maybe even get motivated to do some cooking of your own – with the recipes in the back of the book!