Saturday, October 2, 2010

Julia’s Kitchen
by Brenda Ferber

Julia’s Kitchen
Brenda Ferber
Grades 5 and up

Cara Segal was your average, happy 11-year-old. She loves to scrapbook, hang out with her best friend Marlee and bake with her mother. But then tragedy hits her family—their home caught on fire and her mother and younger sister lost their lives in the fire. Cara and her father go into shock, just passing through their lives. She tries to get her father to open up and tell her what happened that early morning but it is too hard for him. Throughout the novel, Cara is also battling her faith. She cannot understand why God did not protect her family. Will Cara and her father be able to put their lives back together and move on or will they remain stuck in the past growing apart each day that passes?

This story immediately sucked me in and kept me reading. The story begins with the fire and then tells the painful story of trying to put their lives back together. One theme that continually pops up is religion or faith in God—Judaism in particular. There is a glossary at the end to help those who are not Jewish understand what the words mezuzah, challah, keriah among others. Even those who are not Jewish will find the questioning of faith/God after a tragedy relatable. Overall, this is a good but sad read. At the ending of the book, you are left with a feeling of contentment knowing the family will be okay.

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