Of Women and Salt is the third book about immigration that I have recently read. Although countries and people change, there is a lot of commonality in the stories. The things we carry with us from the past and the land we left behind forms our identity, in a way. Or immigration ascribes this to people. You cannot establish an identity other than the known norms of the country you are leaving in your new country. These books are talking loudly about it. Oh, and racism.
Of Women and Salt tells the story of 5 generations of women who migrated from Cuba to America. Occasionally, I was confused as the author makes continuous leaps in time and narrators. And unfortunately, since there is no voice specific to each narrator, these leaps become monotonous after a while. While the book tries to tell many things, unfortunately, it reveals very little. Because I didn’t know any of the characters properly, I couldn’t empathize, and as a result, I didn’t care what happened to them. I wish she’d pick a few characters and tell their story. A much stronger book would have come out. Still, it is not a bad book and highly readable if you are interested in immigration stories. Enjoy!
Of Women and Salt
1866, Cuba: María Isabel is the only woman employed at a cigar factory. Where each day the workers find strength in daily readings of Victor Hugo. But these are dangerous political times, and as María begins to see marriage and motherhood as her only options, the sounds of war are approaching.
1959, Cuba: Dolores watches her husband make for the mountains in answer to Fidel Castro’s call to arms. What Dolores knows, though, is that to survive, she must win her own war. And commit an act of violence that threatens to destroy her daughter Carmen’s world.
2016, Miami: Carmen, still wrestling with the trauma of displacement, is shocked when her daughter Jeanette announces her plans to travel to Cuba to see her grandmother Dolores. In the walls of her crumbling home lies a secret. One that will link Jeanette to her past, and to this fearless line of women.
From nineteenth-century cigar factories to present-day detention centres. From Cuba to the United States to Mexico, Gabriela Garcia’s Of Women and Salt follows Latina women of fierce pride. Bound by the stories passed between them. It is a haunting meditation on the choices of mothers and the tenacity of women. Who choose to tell their truth despite those who wish to silence them.
Gabriela Garcia is a fiction writer, poet, and journalist. After completing an MFA in fiction from Purdue, she received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award and served as the 2018 writer-in-residence for Sarabande Books. Her work has been selected for publication in Best American Poetry 2019.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: