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From the Kitchen of Half Truth

by Maria Goodin

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859280,273 (3.91)None
As her mother approaches death, Meg May insists that her mom tell her the truth about who they are and who they used to be, rather than the outlandish tales she always told Meg in her youth.

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Big Fish is a favorite of mine and I was interested in this book because the storyline reminded me of Big Fish.
There's a girl (she's 21) whose mother has spent her entire life lying/elaborating the story of her life.
When the girl's mom gets very sick and she is aware her mother is dying, she wants to spend every moment with her and she wants to get to the bottom of her mother's stories.
There's a huge level of guilt involved because she knows her mother clings to these stories, but she can't bring herself to lose any chance of knowing her own stories when she loses her mom.

I found one character almost completely unlike able (Mark) and one so likeable that he's practically a guardian angel (Ewan).

( )
  Mishale1 | Dec 29, 2018 |
Touching story of a mother/daughter relationship that is imbued with whimsy , humor and sadness. ( )
  Cricket856 | Jan 25, 2016 |
Review first published on fefferbooks.com. A free advanced reader copy of this book was provided by Sourcebooks Landmark in exchange for an honest review. The review below is in no way influenced by this consideration.

For months, now, I’ve been on the lookout for a good, clean, read I can recommend wholeheartedly for a book group. This, friends, is it!

When I came across the ARC for From the Kitchen of Half Truth, it was called [b:Nutmeg|411471|Nutmeg|David Lucas|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1174515154s/411471.jpg|400732], which I found charming. I’m not sure what’s up with the wordy title change, but don’t let that put you off from this delightful, kitchy, lovely little novel.

Meg, or “Nutmeg,” is a young woman who returns home to visit her mother, only to discover that she’s not quite well, and needs some help. She decides to stay, and while she’s there, see if she can learn some truths about herself. Meg’s grown up with a life story that makes no real sense at all–all of her childhood stories are clearly fairy tales, conjured up out of her mother’s wild and slightly silly imagination. Meg, herself, is a scientist with a promising career in genetic research, and has reached a point in her life when she simply has no more patience for her mother’s flights of fancy, particularly when it comes to her own past. The two seem at cross purposes, but Meg’s search for the truth about her history ends up revealing all kinds of things about her relationship with her mother, and others around her.

I can’t say enough lovely things about this novel. The writing is not technically perfect, but it’s close–nothing about it is distracting enough to draw readers away from the charming tale Goodin weaves. The story could, on first description, sound superficial, but I was impressed by Goodin’s ability to dig deep and draw out some real, raw emotions in her characters and me, as her reader. I admit to being a little confused by where things were going during the first bit of the novel, but not so much as to be put off–it’s clear that Goodin’s taking us somewhere, and trying to get us to understand the slightly off-kilter reality in which her main characters live. Things start to come together before too long, and the convention is effective.

In all, this is a delightful little novel, and I was thrilled to have had the chance to read it. Completely clean. 4 stars. ( )
  fefferbooks | May 12, 2014 |
I loved the beginning of the book:

" I came out a little underdone. Five more minutes and I would have been as big as the other children, my mother said. She blamed my pale complexion on her cravings for white bread (too much flour) and asked the doctor if I would have risen better had she done more exercise (too little air). The doctor wasn’t sure about this, but he was very concerned about the size of my feet. He suggested that next time my mother was pregnant she should try standing on her head or spinning in circles (spinning in circles on her head would be ideal) as this would aid the mixing process and result in a better proportioned baby."

Meg's mom had an obsession with food which lead to the most outrageously funny fantasies about her daughter's first five years on this planet. At first I laughed, because the stories were so unbelievably creative and funny. I would not have minded to have a mother with an imagination like that all.

But truth be told, I was seldom so touched by a book that I sat with a mouth full of teeth, not knowing what to say in reviewing a book. If I blurted out 'magnificent', I still would have to explain why, in which case it will become necessary to quote this entire book in the review!

A 21-year old girl, Meg May, arrives home after earning a degree in science. She is coming home to take care of her dying mother. It is soon clear that mom's outrageous fibs and fiction hid a mystery about Meg's childhood that she was unable or unwilling to reveal to Meg.

"Throughout her pregnancy my mother suffered all manner of complications. She was overcome by hot flushes several times a day which the midwife blamed on a faulty thermostat, and experienced such bad gas that a man from the local gas board had to come and give her a ten-point safety check. Her fingers swelled up like sausages so that every time she walked down the street the local dogs would chase her, snapping at her hands. She consumed a copious amount of eggs, not because she craved them, but because she was convinced the glaze would give me a nice golden glow. Instead, when the midwife slapped me on the back I clucked like a chicken."

As a young girl, the world of fairies and talking animals only brought rejection from Meg's school friends, which left her lonely and growing up fending for herself in the harsh world of school and mean neighborhood kids. Now, as a grown-up scientist, she wants her mother to finally face reality and tell the truth and stop dodging her own story. Meg is convinced that people who believed in fiction and fantasy were gradually rotting their brains. Their fictional world was destroying them day by day, like a maggot eating away at their brains. Life has taught her that science is the only way to address the world and it's challenges. Science is her way of addressing life. It is the social home where she finally is accepted and respected.

The gardener, Ewan, appears out of nowhere, starts talking to the trees, asks the frogs nicely to leave the garden and explains to snails why they are not welcome. Valerie, Meg's mom, finds a soulmate, which drives Meg to more antagonistic behaviour. But Meg has a few lessons to learn, of which the first one is that Ewan might sometimes have his head in the clouds, but his feet are firmly on the ground.

When Meg finally discovers the truth behind her mom's fantasy world, she is devastated. As she meanders back into her mom's past, she slowly begins the walk on the road of healing and understanding. Forgiveness comes slowly and quietly.

It is the second mother-and-daughter book I read this year that had me in tears. First of longing and sadness, and then of joy. The biggest compliment a daughter can give her mother is to finally be able to say to her: " I am everything you ever taught me, even when you thought I wasn’t listening."

My mom never had to tell me fairy tales like this. She did not have to rewrite my history for me like Meg's mom. This book shocked and shook me to my deepest core. This book is so multifaceted it is very hard to write a complete review on it without turning it into a dissertation! Apart from the delightful fibs and fantasy in the book, it also addresses a magnitude of emotions, perceptions, approaches and -isms that can enhance or destroy lives, depending on how we apply it to our own life stories.

I recommend it to all mothers and daughters alike; to fathers and brothers who always wanted to know what the real magic in fairy tales is all about.

I wanted to rate it five stars for excellent writing, originality and plot, but if it was possible, I would have added another five stars for the unbelievable emotional journey it invites the reader on. Nobody will walk away unscathed from this experience.

From my blog: http://wingbackchoices.blogspot.com/2013/11/nutmeg-by-maria-goodin.html ( )
  Margitte123 | Nov 1, 2013 |
I found the stories the mother told in this book absolutely delightful and hoped and hoped that this would turn into a fantasy novel where a crab cake actually DID pinch Meg and left a scar on her face. Unfortunately I had figured out by page 50 that this would be yet another coming of age story where the mother goes through some sort of trauma, possibly rape, that she hides from the daughter for her own good, the daughter would find out on her own and regret it, the daughter would dump her pragmatic boyfriend for the "lowly" gardener who would teach her to follow her heart, and the mother would die being loved and adored.

On the plus side, it was easy to read (I finished it in a day) and it talked about all sorts of food. ( )
  akdoxrud | Aug 22, 2013 |
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As her mother approaches death, Meg May insists that her mom tell her the truth about who they are and who they used to be, rather than the outlandish tales she always told Meg in her youth.

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