Cara’s world is full of scrap-booking and good cooking, a pesky younger sister, and her strong and friendly father. When her mother and sister are killed in a fast-moving house fire, Cara seems to have lost – everything. Even her father is no longer with her in anything more than body. Cara feels like she’s losing her mind – where was God? How can the Rabbi calmly talk about her mother and her sister when they're gone? How can Bubbe and Zayde – her mother’s parents – manage to carry on?
Cara’s grieving is depicted in all of its forms – feeling ashamed for being able to laugh, feeling guilty for having ever been annoyed with her sister, feeling sorry for herself, and unable to pick herself out of a rut of depression to care about anyone else. Out of the ashes of Cara’s grief, she revives her mother’s baking company. With the discipline learned in Julia’s Kitchen, Cara learns to live again – and drags her father back to life, too.
The title made me a sucker for this book -- anything to do with 'Julia' and 'kitchens' is right up my alley! It was fairly intense for a middle grade book, but it tells the truth about true grief and depression and loss, and what it takes to go on.