Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia is a family drama that spans five generations and four countries, gracefully weaving fragmented chapters along a seamless spine of female fortitude.
Two families are featured in the novel, both of Latin American descent, their intersections meaningful and so-satisfying-I-need-more-immediately. From Camaguey 1866 to Miami in 2019, we explore the lives of Jeanette and Carmen, mother and daughter, as they struggle with Jeanette’s drug addiction. Jeanette’s relapse-rehab lifestyle reveals a childhood history of neglect anchored in challenges from generations’ past. Bisecting Jeanette’s story is the tale of Gloria and Ana, Jeanette’s neighbours. Just as Jeanette is recovering, Gloria is deported, leaving her daughter, Ana, in the weak hands of Jeanette’s care. From there, the novel whips itself into the buttery-rich complexities of inheritance. How and why do we continue to survive when the torture of trauma is adding up?
Of Women and Salt exposes the luxury of gray areas, the fact that choice is a privilege and survival is a choice. The characters in this novel are choosing to defeat chaos and continue their bloodlines. But it isn’t enough to instigate livelihood. These characters are challenged to find the sweetness in the mud, the wealth beneath the dirt. All of them are trying. But the substance of sweetness isn’t always apparent, especially between generations. Of Women and Salt elevates the mother-daughter rift, highlighting the importance of forcing intimacy, if only for the sake of survival.
You will love this novel if you love dramatic literature with rich family dynamics, tense plotlines, and poetic specificity. The writing feels like Dave Eggers’s A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius meets Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties: Detail that pushes tension, unraveling a feminine narrative that refuses to hold back. My jaw dropped at least five times. Gift this book to a sister, mom, girlfriend, or female-enthused acquaintance. It’s a sure-fire, tear-jerking, hug-it-to-my-chest great read.