by Patricia Riley Giff
recipes seasoned with herbs and care are always the best – even when ingredients are rationed and scarce.
Janea lives with her brother Rob. He’s nine years older than she is and has just become old enough to gain custody and take her from foster care. That’s been their dream since she’s been five and Rob has visited her every Sunday. Finally they can build a home together. It is a home of love, stories, shared meals, soup and change. Rob is a cook at the Navy base and he’s about to be shipped out on the USS Muldoon. He’ll be cooking meals for the sailors and Janea will be living with their landlady, Celine until he comes back. Rob assures her it won’t be long. When the war is over and Rob is home they plan to open a restaurant where he’ll make the meals and “Gingersnap” will make the soup. Gingersnap is the nickname Janea’s mother gave her because of her ginger-colored hair. The name makes Janea feel closer to her family.
Rob leaves and the days pass by. Celine thinks that Janea needs to learn manners and perhaps she does. Janea tries her best to be a quiet, neat girl. She tries to stay out of the way. She cares for Theresa the turtle in the soon-to-be dried up pond in their old backyard. She carries the rock girl with her always – the funny rocky face from one of the last days at home with Rob, when she’d been trying to pick a yellow flower in the pond and become stuck in the mud completely. Rob had rescued her and found the curious rock that looked like a face. He’d given to her with a quip and that’s when she’s seen the ghost – her but not her. Curious.
Then the unthinkable – Rob’s ship is sunk and he is lost in the Pacific. Celine feels burdened by the responsibility of Janea. Janea feels totally alone. Both want their old lives back, but have no idea how that can be. At the insistence of the ghost, Janea goes back to their house one more time. She finds a box of carefully saved things that must once have belonged to her parents. There is book of carefully written recipes with a photograph of woman in front of a bakery named “Gingersnap.” Janea knows right away that this is a key – her grandmother she dares to hope. There is an address and so Janea, along with Therea for company, sets off to Brooklyn full of hope in search of her place to belong.
You’ll have to read Gingersnap what happens to Janea when she arrives in the city. You might become a soup specialist too – Janea shares her recipes with you. Savor every page – it is delicious.