The Mouse Proof Kitchen: A Novel by Saira Shah
Published July 2, 2013 by Simon and Schuster
*** SPOILER ALERT ***
I received a ARC from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
This is an intense, compelling fictional story of a family’s journey to raise their disabled child. This book took me longer time to read, compared to my usual quick pace of reading. This is due to two reasons. First, the book is written with such intense emotion, I needed to take frequent reading breaks, to digest the information, before starting to read it again. I also have two children with special needs, (not nearly as severe as Freya), so this added to the amount of heart wrenching emotion that I could tolerate in one sitting. There were several times that I wanted to stop reading, but I pushed through it in order to see the ending.
Written from the point of view of the mother, the novel begins with Anna and Tobias welcoming their daughter, Freya, into the world. Immediately, we learn that Freya is born with severe disabilities. Although their life plans are initially derailed, they continue their plans to move from England to a run down farmhouse in rural France. Anna dreams of opening a restaurant, while her husband Tobias works on his evolving music career. The strengths of the book are succinct writing and a compelling story. I felt emotionally connected to Anna, the main protagonist. I had a difficult time warming up to the other main character, Tobias.
The grieving process of coming to terms with raising a disabled child is written with raw honesty, until the end of the novel. One of the minor weaknesses of the novel is the unrealistic expectation that a couple raising a disabled child would reach their dreams jobs so quickly. Also, Anna makes some unusual decisions towards the end of the story which seem contrived. Overall, it was an intense and interesting novel.
REVIEW: 4 STARS