Francesca’s Kitchen by Peter Pezzelli
Francesca Campanile is a classic Italian-American widow. Her youngest child has reached adulthood and doesn’t live at home any more, and her older children have moved to opposite ends of the country and have families of their own. Needing to feel needed, she answers an ad for a single mother looking for a nanny. What she finds is a new family.
The mother, Loretta, works too many hours, and the kids, Penny and Will (one wonders if the other was a fan of <i>Lost in Space</i>, have no structure. Francesca changes that, becoming a mother figure to Loretta and a grandmother-figure to the kids. When Loretta hits it off with Francesca’s unmarried son, the family unit is cemented into one.
What could be a cheesy tale is made real by the validity of the various character’s emotions: Francesca feels old and useless, Loretta feels like a failure as a mother, etc. That Italian food and home cooking are prevalent themes only makes the book stronger, for the kitchen is the heart of any home. And that’s what this book has plenty of: heart.
Warning: may make you crave baked ziti.