She Reads: ‘Of Women and Salt’ by Gabriela Garcia

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“Of Women and Salt” by Gabriela Garcia, follows Jeanette, a young woman who is battling addiction and in search of the deeply hidden truths about her family’s history. Her desperate quest for answers takes her from Florida to Cuba, Cuba to Mexico, and even further into South America. This story seeks to reveal broad truths about the things we truly understand about ourselves and the things we merely choose to believe.

Jeanette’s mother Carmen, a Cuban immigrant, tries avidly to be there in every possible way for her daughter but still battles her own demons while processing her difficult relationship with her mother, Jeanette’s grandmother. This novel is a story of the impacts of generational trauma throughout many families, and the freedom and healing that unravelling said trauma provides.

“You cried for your old life every day. You begged to go back to Florida and how could I explain it to you? You, so small and full of hope still? That the place you called home had never considered you her’s, had always held you at arm’s length like an ugly reflection?”, Gloria says to her daughter Ana as they flee violence in El Salvador.

A recent overview from “Goodreads” says, “A haunting meditation on the choices of mothers, the legacy of the memories they carry, and the tenacity of women who choose to tell their stories despite those who wish to silence them, this is more than a diaspora story; it is a story of America’s most tangled, honest, human roots.”

Though this was a difficult book to read, it was most definitely eye opening. This is an author who has a lot to say about immigration, ICE, deportation, motherhood and various other hard-hitting topics.

I will warn that with those hard-hitting topics comes a heartfelt warning as some moments may be hard to read. Garcia’s writing style is nothing short of brutally honest, with an element of generational nostalgia in this story that I believe will be relatable to many.

The language that “Of Women and Salt” is written in proves powerfully woven with geographic metaphors. Garcia’s consistent use of astounding imagery within just a few words is no accident, as there is a running theme throughout this novel of truly loving something – be it a person, or a country – that does not reciprocate.

“That there are no real rules that govern why some are born in turmoil and others never know a single day in which the next seems an ill-considered bet. It’s all lottery, Ana, all chance. It’s the flick of a coin, and we are born.” – “Of Women and Salt”

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