Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Sweetness of Salt

I can't believe I still haven't managed to read The Patron Saint of Butterflies by Cecelia Galante! However, I have managed to quickly devour The Sweetness of Salt, just recently published. This book's cute cover was an easy sell for me. And, the story also grabbed me quickly.

Julia has what seems to be a perfect life. She has graduated as the valedictorian in her high school class, has received a full ride scholarship to her father's alma mater, and plans to go into law. While she is a bit embarassed about the brush off she got from Milo, her best friend's brother, life seems to be going her way.

Her older sister, Sophie, has come back to celebrate graduation, which should be a pleasant surprise, but it is obvious that there is an unspoken tension between Sophie and her parents. The two don't speak often and finally Sophie reveals that she wants her parents to be honest with Julia and disclose a family secret buried for seventeen years. While I didn't find the revelation to be earth-shattering, or really impact Julia's life in a day-to-day way, it does shed some light on what Julia's family is really like. The image of perfection is one her parents tried hard to project. Their past that Julia discovers makes her question her relationship with her parents. Julia takes off to visit Sophie, opting to spend the summer with her. While there, she starts to really look at what she wants to do with her life and come to terms with her parents' secretiveness.

This was a great quick read. I enjoyed it - enough so that I stayed up late reading last night and finished it this morning. There were a few places I felt were a bit unbelievable....like the fight between Julia's parents that resulted in an injury requiring her mother to now wear a hearing aid. While the argument and injury were believable, I just had a hard time envisioning Julia not finding some tension or bitterness in her parents' marriage. After tragedy (that's all I'll say about the secret in their past) befalls them, I also found it hard to believe that Julia's parents were so able to move on without ever indicating a deep sadness to their daughter. Sophie, who was alive when these events happened, and who felt responsible also must have borne some scars. The tension between herself and her parents is one of them, but I also couldn't understand her parents' unwillingness to address this with her- which probably only made her ability to move on more difficult.

There are several references to salt/taste within this story as Sophie, a baker, prepares to open her own shop. Even events that may at first not seem sweet or happy, may eventually leave that taste.

I am definitely going back to read The Patron Saint of Butterflies. This one holds lots of teen appeal, so I will recommend it to others as well.

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