Of Women and Salt is a 2021 instant New York Times bestseller. The debut novel by Gabriela Garcia is a sweeping tale of sacrifice, sorrow, struggle, and dreams of a better life covering multiple generations. The fictional novel begins with a mother pleading with her adult daughter to fight to live. The novel then continues to unpack the series of circumstances that led to the opening scene. The storyline jumps from the past to the present and back again several times. It is a gritty story that continues to ask the listener to ponder, “Why are the lives of some women seemingly carefree while others are filled with hardship?” The novel delves into the choices that women make in order to survive, in order to provide their children with a better life, in order to find relief from the hardships of life.
The novel is primarily the story of the women of a family with origins in Cuba. Life in Cuba was hard—illiteracy, poverty, and political unrest. The family eventually moves to the United States. Life in the United States is the land of promises unfulfilled. Woven into the story of Carmen (the mother) and Jeanette (the daughter) is the story of Anna. Anna is from El Salvador and is brought to the United States as a child. One day Anna’s mother is taken into custody by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but Anna is not. What happens next has consequences beyond their imagination.
Frankie Corzo narrates this audiobook. She doesn’t change her voice for characters to differentiate the characters. In a way, this choice demonstrates connectedness and a “we-ness” of the lives of women. Her voice is earthy and has a weariness to it. The weariness of women who wonder, “Will life ever get better?”
An added bonus: The last 15 minutes of the audiobook contains an interview with the author. In the interview she shares her inspiration for the novel.
If you are looking for a book that features the voices of women, this is a book for you. If you are looking for a “lite'' listen, this book is not for you. Note: This book contains language that might not be appropriate for younger listeners. The narration includes stories of illegal drug use and addiction. Additionally, though a fictional account, several stories of violence and sexual encounters are told with sufficient detail to be triggering for some. 7 hours, 7 minutes. (Audible)