Of Women and Salt

Flatiron. Mar. 2021. 224p. ISBN 9781250776686. $26.99. F
DEBUT Garcia’s debut novel tells two parallel stories of Latinx immigrant families. While the stories intersect near the beginning and end of the book, the women’s experiences are as distinct as the cultures from which they come. At the story’s center is Jeanette, whose mother, Carmen, emigrated from Cuba, cutting off all ties with her family. The family is impacted by multigenerational trauma caused by war, revolution, and abuse, and Jeanette struggles with drug addiction. When her neighbor, Gloria, an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador, is detained by ICE, Jeanette briefly takes in her daughter, Ana, who is inadvertently left behind. In nonsequential chapters, we follow the struggles of Jeanette and her family, as well as Gloria and Ana’s harrowing experiences with the current U.S. immigration policies.
VERDICT While the nonlinear structure of the narrative sometimes makes the story feel disjointed, Garcia has carefully layered the novel so that each chapter delivers revelations about the motivations and psychological burdens of the characters that add to understanding on the part of the reader (though not necessarily the characters, who are not always party to the secrets of their mothers or grandmothers). A relevant and timely work delivered with empathy.

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