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Of Women and Salt

by Gabriela Garcia

Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia X
Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia
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Mary O. (Siasconset, MA)

Excellent debut novel
A fascinating story of mother/daughter relationships amidst the backdrop of Cuba and Florida. So engrossing and hard to put down!
Mary L. (Greeley, CO)

Women--Cuba, Generations, Immigration
If you want to enter the hearts of several generations of women, starting in Cuba an moving to Miami you will want to read this book. While not long in length, the story that unfolds through the voices of these women is unforgettable and one that leave you haunted. "We are force" indeed.
Karna B. (Long Beach, CA)

Of Women and Salt
This debut novel is a must read! From the cigar factories in Cuba to the streets of Miami, Garcia's writing compels the reader to encounter the lived experiences of each of the female protagonists. Immigration and detention, poverty, isolation, drug and/or marital abuse, and mother/daughter relationships are predominant themes. While at times difficult to savor due to the traumas experienced by each of the females portrayed, this timely book should be on everyone's reading list.
Ann W. (New York, NY)

First person: Plural
Well crafted stories, cinematic framework. Collective voices, with misdirection. Cuban female perspectives begin in slavery in colonial Cuban and continue to present.
Margot P. (Mandeville, LA)

We Are Force
These words, written in the margin of a page in a Spanish first edition of Les Miserables, define the nine characters of this short, rich novel. Each chapter is more like a self contained short story with just enough links to add power and meaning to the next. So much is covered in 200 pages: civil wars in Cuba, Salvadoran emigration, addiction, molestation, and very complex mother daughter relationships. Yet, the novel never feels crowded or overwhelming. It's sad, violent, but dotted with glimmers of hope. I actually liked Of Women and Salt better than American Dirt which was one of my favorites of the year.

I waited to post my review until my book group had met. The book caused a lively discussion. Many were enlightened by aspects and being Floridians very interested. It brought up many reflections on the members' relationships with their own mothers. There is much depth in this book, and I recommend it for your own reading groups.
Veronica Earley

The strength of woman
This was not a page turner for me. It was full of interesting material, but I have read others that pulled me into the story more. However, the author was able to write a good story and share her thoughts and words. I compliment that. I received a copy and have shared with my friends.
Lee L.

Well-written and powerful story!
In trying to rate this book, I feel a bit conflicted. On the one hand, I loved the beautiful, lyrical writing and the way that the author, Gabriela Garcia, was able to capture the emotional nuances of her characters so perfectly (and seemingly effortlessly). I love family stories that span generations and I felt this one was particularly well done in terms of showing the generational connections between the various women as well as how the decisions each one makes impact each other in a profound way. I also found it admirable how Garcia was able to cover so much ground in such a short novel (this one clocked in at a little over 200 pages), seamlessly weaving into the narrative timely and important topics such as illegal immigration, deportation, the border crisis, drug addiction, domestic and sexual abuse, etc., alongside political and historical events related to Cuba and the revolution that occurred there, plus aspects of the Cuban culture and community. The way that Garcia presented the struggles that her characters (women some from the same family but different generations, others not from the family but connected somehow) go through, I felt like I was getting a first-hand account more powerful than what usually gets presented in the news. I definitely learned a lot!

With all that said, one of the things that didn’t work too well for me was the non-linear structure of the story. I didn’t have a problem with each chapter being told from the perspective of different characters, but what made this a frustrating read for me was the jumping back and forth between multiple timelines and settings in a non-chronological way (for example – jumping from 2018 to 1866, then to 2014, then to 1959 then to 2016 then back to 2006, etc.). I found it really difficult to keep track of the story arcs and ended up having to flip back and forth a lot. I think if I had been able to finish this book in one sitting, it would’ve been fine, but the reality is that I’m rarely able to do so with how busy my life often gets.

Overall, I feel that this is a strong, assured debut that’s also a necessary read, especially for readers who like well-written contemporary fiction that not just reflects current times and issues, but also incorporates historical aspects as well. Definitely highly recommended, though with the caveat that it’s best to read this one all in one sitting if you are able to. It’s also not an easy read by any means due to the heavy (and oftentimes controversial) topics it covers — though triggers abound, it’s still very much a worthwhile read.

Received print ARC from publisher (Flatiron Books) via BookBrowse.


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