Author Lisa Wingate should be on every woman’s list of go-to-authors. I hate dividing books into categories: men’s literature, chick lit, kiddie lit, etc., but Wingate writes about things that traditionally we do associate with being of interest to women. Based on a real situation, THE SUMMER KITCHEN is a strong story about a strong woman who made a big difference in a small way.
SandraKaye is getting a house ready to sell. The old place had belonged to her beloved uncle Poppy and had once stood proudly in a nice residential neighborhood. Now the streets have become unsafe and the residents are living in sub-poverty conditions. She knows that the chances of selling the decaying house are slim.
Taking an old lady home from the local Wal-Mart, SandraKaye sees three small children eating from the apartment complex dumpster. Not aware that she is being watched, she chases them out of the garbage bin.
Cass Blue is watching the lady with the fancy car scold the children; she knows that they have no other food. Twelve-year-old Cass and her teenage brother have been on their own since the death of their mother. They are always one step ahead of Children’s Services and real hunger. Cass has learned to keep a low profile and not to be the least trusting. If you get too close to someone, your secrets could be revealed.
Later Cass watches as the lady comes back with free peanut butter jelly sandwiches for the kids. Neither Cass or SandraKaye know how that simple act of kindness will affect both of their lives.
Wingate gets us into her characters quickly. SandraKaye lives a prosperous life, but with her older son missing, her younger son depressed, and her husband too wrapped up in his job, she feels that her life no longer has meaning.
Cass has problems just getting food on the table. Her brother works, but because of his age he finds good paying jobs scarce. The drugged out stripper that he brings home one night not only takes the bedroom from Cass, but comes with a small child and an abusive boyfriend on her trail.
The best part of any Lisa Wingate book is her character development Not only are her main characters strong, but her secondary ones - both good and bad- are real. The story may seem a little predictable,but there are always enough twists to keep you reading about people who matter .