I won In The Kitchen by Monica Ali from Goodreads, a website I frequent. I registered to win the book because I read that the author had been short listed for the Man Booker prize, a prize that means a lot even if you were just short listed.
So here is my review: I liked it. It was good. Not great.
The book starts out very slow. I felt like the character hadn't been fully developed. In fact, I didn't feel like I knew him at all until about 200 pages into the novel. For a reader, this was very frustrating. Once I got about 3/4ths of the way through the book, I realized why she had started the novel out this way because the main character, Gabriel, is going a little nutter. He doesn't even know himself, so why should the reader know him? Just the same, I found it a slow beginning, and I think the author should be thankful that I am a trooper and stuck with her story.
My favorite parts were the familial interactions within the text. Whenever Gabriel and his sister Jenny had a talk, I felt like the plot was really picking up. The same was true for whenever Gabriel and Ted, his father, were having a heart to heart or when Gabriel was remembering things from his childhood. I also really liked Charlie. I'm not sure why, but I was drawn to her.
Now this Lena. WTH was with this Lena? I know her being in Gabe's life sort of propelled the conflict, but besides making the ending come together (spoiler: the part where Gabe finds himself working on a kind of slave labor farm and his suspicions about Gleeson are confirmed), she was really useless in my opinion.
All in all, the book was a fascinating look into the mind of someone having a mental breakdown, and the novel proves that sometimes you don't know who you are until you've lost everything except your very life.