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Of Women and Salt
by Gabriela Garcia

Published: 2021-04-06T00:0
Hardcover : 224 pages
7 members reading this now
23 clubs reading this now
4 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 2 of 2 members
“Gabriela Garcia captures the lives of Cuban women in a world to which they refuse to surrender and she does so with precision and generosity and beauty.” - Roxane Gay, bestselling author of Hunger and Bad Feminist

A sweeping, masterful debut about a daughter's fateful choice, a ...

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“Gabriela Garcia captures the lives of Cuban women in a world to which they refuse to surrender and she does so with precision and generosity and beauty.” - Roxane Gay, bestselling author of Hunger and Bad Feminist

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 Cuban immigrant, 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, Gabriela Garcia's 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.

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Discussion Questions

Of Women And Salt features a family complex female characters. How are the woman alike? How are they different? Can you sympathize with them?

How Of Women and Salt dismantle the notion of a monolithic immigrant, specifically the Latinx, experience?

Gabriela spent a lot of time as a feminist, immigrant rights, and political organizer. What argument do you feel like she was making about these themes in Of Women and Salt? Did she successfully incorporate and challenge these themes in this novel?

Suggested by Members

Mother/Daughter Relationships
Women's Rights
by [email protected] (see profile) 02/22/21

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Similar to other books on same immigrant subject
by thewanderingjew (see profile) 04/03/21
Of Women and Salt, Gabriela Garcia, author; Frankie Corzo, narrator In this multigenerational tale of immigrants, there is dysfunction, irresponsibility and desperation as a result of need, poor choices and many unexpected consequences. From Cuba to America and places in between, the characters describe their experiences and disappointments showing courage and fortitude. There is very little gratitude for what the host country provides them, however, rather there is resentment for what they are lacking because they are not accepted and welcomed. Often their predicaments are self-inflicted, offering little choice of any other outcome. Whether living in El Salvador or Mexico or Cuba, coming to the United States is often the ultimate reward for their dangerous journey, a journey they hope will lead them to a better life. They bypass the laws of America and live in the shadows, many for years and years. They bear legal children who are at the mercy of the authorities if the parents are deported. Their illegal children will be deported with them, thus ripping families apart. Although the immigrant blames the system, it is their choice to live illegally in America that leads to the hardships and suffering they face. Although they often leave their home country because they feel threatened either by danger from within their own family or from the political conditions in their country or from the governmental regulations or the warring factions that make their survival tenuous, they choose to do it without appropriate papers. Still, they leave all they know to find sanctuary for themselves, or in reality, mostly for their children whom they want to have greater opportunity for a better, safer and more successful life. They endure danger and fear as they trek from their country across land and water fraught with danger, often led by dishonest coyotes or drug dealers who charge them exorbitant fees and sometimes even leave them to fend for themselves at the most dangerous part of their journey. They are often robbed, raped and abandoned, sometimes left for dead, but they are so desperate they are willing to risk the danger. Once they are in the United States, they must figure out how to navigate the country so as not to be taken into custody which would be followed by deportation and the defeat of the very purpose of their journey. As with many of the novels and non-fiction tales about these immigrants, this one shows their plight as they live in the constant fear of being caught, as they dread being separated from the child they gave birth to shortly after they arrived because that child is legal and can remain, but they cannot. Even as they can’t bear the thought of separation, the thought of taking the child to a dangerous country they never knew, but one the parent is from, one in which they don’t speak the language, is worse. In spite of the danger, they still risk everything to come. For the most part, few feel any responsibility for what befalls them. Few feel shame or guilt for breaking the law. They feel entitled to be here and do not really understand why they are not allowed to remain. They complain about living conditions when they are free and moving about, and then they complain about the conditions of the detainment facilities and the bureaucracy, if they are caught. They complain about the food, the lack of jobs, the poor pay. However, in truth, sometimes they are abused, not only by the employers and landlords and coyotes, but by the very system that is overseeing their welfare and arrests. Every service has its rotten apples. The immigrants often do not know the system, they don’t know how to work it and they don’t understand the rules the country has in place. Immigration advisors and lawyers often cheat them or give them incompetent advice. They are sometimes supplied with false papers, as well, so they are forced to live in the shadows. Sometimes, after they are detained, they are not sent back to the country of their origin, but are deposited in the nearest one, like Mexico, without any support system. Sometimes the children do not even speak anything but English, since they never lived anyplace else, but they must go with their parents outside the borders of the United States if they are not legal. The parents knew of the risks and still took them, so who is truly to blame? However, If faced with terrible danger, who has time to follow the legal road? Are there emergency pathways one can follow? Is the illegal and “not so easy route” chosen instead of the more time consuming legal route”, regardless of the danger, because many times they just want the economic advantages offered in the United States which would not be grounds for entry. I would like to read just one book about an immigrant who knows they have broken the law when they sneak into America, who accepts the fact that they committed a crime and will be punished and deported. Perhaps they will try to come again another time, legally, as others have done, waiting patiently for their turn so as not to cut the line and risk the lives of themselves or their children. The bond between parent and child, sibling and sibling, neighbor to neighbor, is often tested to its limit. Humans are capable of both terrible and wonderful behavior, cowardice and bravery, of doing evil or acting like saints. All of these personality traits are highlighted in the personal experiences of the characters in the book. There are so many characters and tales that it sometimes gets a bit confusing requiring the reader to look back, but the story is engaging.

Member Reviews

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by Melissa S. (see profile) 11/10/21

  "Of Women and Salt"by Jill D. (see profile) 02/22/21

Here is a book that makes you think and ponder, long after the last page. Written in the many voices of the various characters provides a solid narrative and insight to the trials of immigr... (read more)

by Peggy E. (see profile) 03/19/22

by Gail R. (see profile) 04/03/21

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