Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia

Told through flashbacks to various family members throughout the years, Gabriela Garcia has written a novel of fierce familial pride in her debut work, Of Women and Salt. Five generations of women are linked through blood and the love of story as they each navigate life.

1866, Cuba: Maria is the only woman employed at a local cigar factory. Each day, a man comes in and reads to them from various books. The current book he reads is by Victor Hugo. Dangerous political times rock her life. As Maria realizes that she won’t be able to escape her current life without getting married and starting a family, war descends on them all.

1959, Cuba: Dolores is often stuck at home feeding and caring for her daughter while her husband disappears for long stretches of time. Her husband is a supporter of Fidel Castro and frequently heads to the mountains in order to answer Castro’s call to arms. Dependent on what little money her husband brings home and with his income drying up with him gone, Dolores knows that in order to survive she will do whatever it takes. What she decides to do may end up destroying her daughter Carmen’s life as well as her own, but she is hopeful that in the long run, they will be able to survive.

2016, Miami: Carmen is struggling. Her feelings of displacement have never completely evaporated. When her daughter Jeanette tells Carmen that she will be traveling to Cuba to visit her grandmother Dolores, Carmen is shocked and confused. Why would Jeanette want to travel? What will Dolores tell her? Carmen and her mother Dolores have a very complicated relationship that she has had to wrestle with for years. Meanwhile, Carmen and Jeanette also have a rocky relationship, something that Carmen has been working through while trying to keep her wayward daughter from going too far off-track. All Jeanette wants is to understand her family’s histories. The best way to do so she believes is to travel to Cuba and visit with her grandma. The secrets in her grandma’s house hold the power to give her answers while also destroying the fragility of the past.

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