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Daily Recco, July 28: Of Women and Salt, and the matrilineal heritage

Of Women and Salt is a story of mothers and daughters; mothers when they were daughters and daughters when they become mothers.

ART & CULTURE  |   2-minute read  |   28-07-2021

The year is 2018. A distraught mother is anguished by her daughter’s opioid addiction and writing to her, begging her to find the will to live and to survive. The daughter wants to find answers to her difficult relationship with her mother and travels across continents to where her roots are entrenched, unravelling her ancestors' lives from the 19th century. And thus begins Gabriela Garcia's masterful debut novel, Of Women and Salt.

The aforementioned mother — Carmen — is an affluent Cuban immigrant and her daughter, Jeannette, is hiding a tragic secret. Carmen’s own share of self-destructive life choices comes to the fore — there is a trauma of displacement with Carmen trying to process her own difficult relationship with her mother. The other arc revolves around a woman named Gloria and her daughter, Ana — undocumented immigrants from El Salvador and how their lives become inextricably intertwined with Carmen and Jeannette’s.

The novel alternates between the 19th and 21st centuries, and the perspectives of several generations of Cuban women, their lives and loves, their demons, displacement and choices.

What it is not is a soppy sentimental story of immigrant women, and nor does it brandish a notion of radical feminism. It is a kaleidoscope of betrayals — by others and self-inflicted — that shape the life of these women.

They have their own motivations and bear the psychological burdens of their choices, just like you and I. The characters are complex and multi-layered, just like us. It is the story of extraordinary women who live in each one of us. Of Women and Salt is the story of mothers when they were daughters and daughters when they become mothers.

Also Read: A Mirror Made of Rain, when mom does not know best

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