Monday, September 26, 2011

#BookReview: The Taste of Salt - Martha Southgate

Everybody has something that they're trying to hide or that they're ashamed of or would like to pretend never happened.  In a family where addiction is your legacy, it's a safe bet that if you don't confront the issue head on, it's guaranteed to rear its ugly head sooner or later, and probably when you least expect it.  And so it is with Josie Henderson and her family.
I love breathing underwater but still being safe, held, protected.  I love the weightlessness.  I never feel that the rest of the time.  Life weighs a ton.  That's why I love the water.  Nothing weighs anything there.
A marine biologist, Josie has always loved the water.  It's her escape from everything that ails her, anything that weighs her down.  As a child, the water was an escape from the destruction alcoholism brought to her happy family.  As an adult, it allows her to keep that same family at bay in Cleveland while she works in the Northeast.  But you can't run from your problems forever and when Josie's brother Tick sinks into the depths of alcoholism himself, she's forced to return home once again.  And just like that, the weightlessness that water gives her is taken away.  Back on dry land, life once again weighs a ton.

While Josie is quick to point out her father and brother's addiction, it takes her much longer to realize its affect on her.  She goes to great lengths to avoid anything that will weigh her down.  Though she's married, it's apparent that her husband loves her much more than she loves him.  Having kids would weigh her down, so even as she's approaching the time when her biological clock should be ticking out of control, she has no desire for them.  And when the weight of being in an interracial marriage weighs on her even slightly, she seeks something easier, something that weighs less.

Told from the perspectives of Josie, Tick and their parents, Ray and Sarah, The Taste of Salt is simply amazing.  Watching Ray's drinking spiral out of control so much so that it costs him the family that he dearly loves and to watch Tick do the same years later is scary, but makes you ask why would he follow his father's path knowing where it would end, having experienced it as a child.  What makes Sarah love so hard and for so long? And at one point does Josie realize that the water can't save her from everything.

What did you like about this book?
Martha Southgate's book always make me think. While I can easily breeze through works by other authors, I find that I have to give myself time to read, think and savor each word with her.

What didn't you like about this book?
I can't think of a thing.

What could the author do to improve this book?

Published September 2011

Theme: Aguas de Marco by Antonio Carlos Jobim & Elis Regina

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