Rating: 4/5 stars
Of Salt and Women is a beautiful, powerfully-written family saga that spans across 5 generations. Ultimately a character study of women, the book primarily focuses on experiences related to immigration and resilience. In just 200 pages, Gabriela Garcia shows us that you can pack a heavy-hitting punch without having to write a lengthy narrative.
The very first page presents us with two diagrams of matrilineal family trees. The short stories that follow take us from 19th-century Cuba to present-day Miami. We see each of these women surviving in whatever way they know how. For some, it means burying the truth. For others, it’s battling addiction and navigating the aftermath. We even meet a few that, despite living in their worst case scenarios, allow themselves a moment of peace to reflect on all that got them to the present moment. Each woman has her own reasons for showing up the way she does which is what makes their stories so compelling. They’re complex, flawed characters that show up as fully realized human beings.
Garcia writes each short story with tact and honesty. Her voice is refreshing and her insights on life left me feeling emotional and reflective. Plus, the title is perfect. An ode to women’s voices, and the blood, sweat, and tears that got them where they are today.
The strongest part of this novel is the one-liners that explain an entire character’s point of view and outlook on life. All it takes is a single sentence and the reader gains instant insight as to why that character is acting the way they are or feels the way they do. Garcia has truly mastered the art of cutting to the point of who someone is.
I personally found this to be a really enjoyable, eye-opening read. Of Women and Salt is full of thought-provoking commentary on life through the traits, histories, and lineage these women carry.
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