The Summer Kitchen

The Summer Kitchen (Blue Sky Hill Series)

I just finished reading The Summer Kitchen by Lisa Wingate, a Texas author. In the past few years, before we moved to Virginia I had decided to focus on Texas authors, but I had never read any of Lisa Wingate’s books before and it turns out she has a list of books out there.  I had absentmindedly picked the book up at the library the day I went to “work” there to use up some time whilst the house was being shown. I also decided if I had to stand in line to pay my old library fines before we moved, I may as well check just one book out. It passed all my tests.

Book decision process:

  • Type: Softcover Penguin style, fits in my hands nice, not too heavy, pages feel nice.
  • Title & Cover: needs to be interesting, this one has vintage kitchen stuff, all right up my alley and who can complain about a book named The Summer Kitchen….which I imagined to be about cooking in unbearable hot summer heat.
  • Engaging Synopsis: First sentence had me: “Sometimes hope springs up in unlikely places. SandraKaye Darden certainly never expects to find it in the little pink house left by her uncle Poppy.” Hope+little pink house+uncle Poppy=surely sweet and light reading
  • 1st Page Test: Pass – I usually read the first page to make sure the writer isn’t all flowery and full of themselves, nor painful in their sentence structure. Also, it’s got to make me want to read more.
  • Page 100 Test: Pass – I usually check page 100 or so to make sure the author didn’t use all of their zip on the first page. This also is the page I require myself to read to, in the oft chance a book is a dog and I want to quit. I must read to page 100. If I’m still not engaged, I can put the book down, guilt free.

The story follows Cass, a young girl and her brother after they make their way from Montana to Dallas and as they disappear into the city to try to make their way. They are thrust into situations beyond their years. Honestly it reminded me ever so slightly of my all time favorite, The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner. I mean that in a good way. The characters are self sufficient and resourceful, but the story shows the gritty side of a life below poverty level. Not having lived under those circumstances I can’t say how realistic it is, but it reads real.

It is also the story of SandraKaye and her family and how they cope with, just like it only different situation. SandraKaye’s family is on the opposite end of the spectrum though, economically, and the family seems intact, but not really. In some ways, Cass, in spite of her poor circumstances, age, and situation, has a better grip on things.

The circumstances in the story are ripped from real life. Lisa Wingate weaves together the stories of these two characters in an expected but unexpected way. I did not have the end figured out, and the plot wasn’t manipulated unrealistically.

I was left feeling hopeful but also a bit inspired. There is a dedication in the front pages: To those who serve and those who are served—may we all see that we walk in the same circle. I can tell you, and I bet you can too, how exactly true that is. We are all just one circumstance away, either way.

One of my favorite parts of this book was that I found a Christian fiction author’s book right out in front in the Public Library.


I have not received compensation of any kind to review this book. I would get a small compensation should you chose to order at this time through my  Amazon Associates links.


About Robin Arnold

Reader, writer, gardener, geek, maker of homes in several states, now settled in Virginia with husband Bob, and Hazel and Wilson the tabby cats.
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3 Responses to The Summer Kitchen

  1. Duane Scott says:

    I love the 100 page test. I may have to adopt your style of writing reviews. Do you mind?

  2. Robin Arnold says:

    Don't mind a bit. I think we all have a sort of book selection process, and I think I swiped the 100 page rule from my Mom.

  3. I just finished this book and loved it! Thanks for your review.

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