Of Women and Salt
by Garcia, Gabriela







1 Dance not beyond the distant mountain
3(24)
2 Everything is holding you now
27(21)
3 An encyclopedia of birds
48(17)
4 Harder girl
65(19)
5 Find your way home
84(6)
6 Prey
90(21)
7 Privilegio
111(7)
8 They like the grimy
118(17)
9 People like that
135(17)
10 That bombs would rain
152(17)
11 Other girl
169(19)
12 More than we think
188(17)
Acknowledgments205


"A sweeping, masterful debut about a daughter's fateful choice, a mother motivated by her own past, and a family legacy that begins in Cuba before either of them were born. In present-day Miami, Jeanette is battling addiction. Daughter of Carmen, a Cubanimmigrant, she is determined to learn more about her family history from her reticent mother and makes the snap decision to take in the daughter of a neighbor detained by ICE. Carmen, still wrestling with the trauma of displacement, must process her difficult relationship with her own mother while trying to raise a wayward Jeanette. Steadfast in her quest for understanding, Jeanette travels to Cuba to see her grandmother and reckon with secrets from the past destined to erupt. From 19th-century cigar factories to present-day detention centers, from Cuba to Mexico, Of Women and Salt is a kaleidoscopic portrait of betrayals-personal and political, self-inflicted and those done by others-that have shaped the lives of these extraordinary women. 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"-





Gabriela Garcia is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer's Award and a Steinbeck Fellowship from San Jose State University. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Best American Poetry, Tin House, Zyzzyva, Iowa Review, and elsewhere. She received an MFA in fiction from Purdue and lives in the Bay Area. Of Women and Salt is her first novel.





Garcia turns her MFA thesis for Purdue University (where she studied with the revered Roxane Gay) into her widely buzzed first novel. Presented in 12 chapters that read more like interlinked stories, Garcia channels her Miami-based Cuban-Mexican American heritage into five generations of a Cuban American matriarchy. Garcia opens with a two-page prologue set in 2018 in Miami, introducing Jeanette, who is recovering from drug addiction and desperate to reclaim her life while navigating a complicated relationship with her mother, Carmen. The first chapter then jumps back to 1866 in Camagüey, Cuba, to great-great-grandmother María Isabel, a hungry-for-more young woman anomalously working in a cigar factory. In the generations since, the women survive, outliving their men yet too often estranging their daughters. Back in the near-present, just for a few days, Jeanette becomes a maternal substitute for her disappeared neighbor Gloria's young child, Ana. Originally from El Salvador, Gloria and Ana's journey of multiple dislocations will find reverberating echoes in Jeanette's family history. Garcia's women populate a sprawling albeit textually spare narrative that demands careful parsing for resonant rewards. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.





Garcia turns her MFA thesis for Purdue University (where she studied with the revered Roxane Gay) into her widely buzzed first novel. Presented in 12 chapters that read more like interlinked stories, Garcia channels her Miami-based Cuban-Mexican American heritage into five generations of a Cuban American matriarchy. Garcia opens with a two-page prologue set in 2018 in Miami, introducing Jeanette, who is recovering from drug addiction and desperate to reclaim her life while navigating a complicated relationship with her mother, Carmen. The first chapter then jumps back to 1866 in Camagüey, Cuba, to great-great-grandmother María Isabel, a hungry-for-more young woman anomalously working in a cigar factory. In the generations since, the women survive, outliving their men yet too often estranging their daughters. Back in the near-present, just for a few days, Jeanette becomes a maternal substitute for her disappeared neighbor Gloria's young child, Ana. Originally from El Salvador, Gloria and Ana's journey of multiple dislocations will find reverberating echoes in Jeanette's family history. Garcia's women populate a sprawling albeit textually spare narrative that demands careful parsing for resonant rewards. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.





An affluent Cuban immigrant reckons with her daughter's drug addiction and her own culpability in their self-destructive choices. As the book opens, it's 2018, and Carmen is writing in anguish to her daughter, Jeannette, begging her to find the will to live. Then we're immediately swept away to Camagüey, Cuba, in 1866, right before the first Cuban war for independence from Spain, where we meet one of the women's ancestors. María Isabel works at a cigar factory, and, as the war blooms bright and bloody, she's pursued by the factory's lector, who reads newspapers and Victor Hugo novels to the workers as they roll cigars. If the novel had continued to offer rich scenes like these, it would have been a success, but from this point on, it feels haphazardly stitched together. We meet Jeannette in 2014, and then Carmen's and Jeanette's voices alternate erratically through different time periods, with little resonance between themâ?"both strands of the narrative center the useless or even abusive men who litter the lives of all the family's women. Then, as if grafted onto the story, Garcia adds intermittent sections from the points of view of a woman named Gloria and her daughter, Ana, undocumented immigrants from El Salvador. Gloria is picked up by ICE agents while Ana is at a babysitter's house, and when the girl gets dropped off, Jeanette takes her in for a few nights before Carmen convinces her to call the policeâ?"a decision that will come to haunt Carmen. Even with snatches of gorgeously compelling prose, the book can't overcome the lack of relationship development among the women of the family in both Miami and Cuba. A Cuban family grapples with violence and addiction, but their relationships lack depth. Copyright Kirkus 2021 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.






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