THE PLOT: ‘Of Women and Salt’ by Gabriela Garcia is a multi-generational narrative about women in a Cuban family. In 1866, Maria Isabel’s life is torn apart as her country experiences political upheaval. One hundred years later, her descendant Dolores makes a fateful decision to save herself from an abusive husband as Fidel Castro’s forces take over the island. In 2016, her granddaughter Jeanette is struggling to become free from drug addiction in Miami. When Jeanette decides to visit Cuba, discovering her family history ties together this fateful line of fearless women.
RATING: Dear reader, I loved this book. Sitting somewhere between interlinked short stories and a literary novel, this book is incredibly powerful and emotional. The storyline jumps around so it’s hard to write a clear plot description but there’s a strong message about the role of women and complex families. The writing style blew me away and I couldn’t help but underline tons of quotes. While not all likeable, the characters were extremely engaging. There were a few small issues – I wish it was longer with more historical sections and I was often confused at the jumps in time – which is why I’m giving it four and a half stars. However, I’ll totally round up on Goodreads!
GOOD BITS: Gabriela Garcia knows how to write. She conveys so much emotion in short, sharp sentences and searing observations. I found myself reading passages aloud. The characters got under my skin and I felt deeply for them all. Even though they did bad things, I understood the characters and was totally in their heads. In particular, there was a sub-plot about two characters – Gloria and Ana – who I absolutely loved. This storyline is about immigration raids and detention centres, which was heart-breaking.
NOT GOOD BITS: It’s selfish but I wish it was longer! I wanted to know more about what happened to each character, particularly Jeanette’s mother (Carmen). I also would have enjoyed more historical sections, either about Maria Isabel and Dolores, or the descendants living in between them. This meant I wasn’t wholly satisfied when I finished reading because I felt there was more to the story. Additionally, I kept having to check the dates on each section because I got a little confused with the time jumps.
OVERALL: I’d recommend this book to fans of ‘How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents’ by Julia Alvarez and ‘Dominicana’ by Angie Cruz. It’s exactly the type of book I love and its inspired me in writing my next novel. I’d encourage everyone to pick up a copy.
Thanks to my buddy reader @frenzyreads for sharing this reading experience with me.