The Sweetness of Salt by Cecilia Galante
From the outside peeking in one may easily assume that Julia leads the perfect life. She’s just graduated at the top of her high school class where she was elected valedictorian, she’s a soon-to-be intern in the district Attorney’s office where she trail some of Ohio’s big wig lawyers, and she’s gearing up for her first year of college where she plans on following in the pre-law footsteps of her father.
Julia’s life is far from perfect. Not only is she in love with a boy who barely speaks to her, but her whirlwind, fly by the seat of her pants older sister Sophie is in town for a visit. It’s not that Julia isn’t happy to see her sister, it’s just that life is so much simpler when she’s not around, when she’s not picking fights and storming out of the family picture. But when Sophie hands over the keys to her VW Bug and offers Julia her own key to her Vermont house, she thinks maybe things are changing. Maybe Sophie’s comes peacefully. Or maybe not.
When Sophie brings up a life long past, a life before Julia was born she knows round one of the fight is just beginning. But what Julia doesn’t know is that this one argument will, not only set in motion a chain of events that will change her life forever, but also reveals a devastating family secret, a secret that Julia just can’t handle, a secret that ultimately forces her to throw caution to the wind, to reevaluate her life, and find comfort and understanding in the confines of a small Vermont town.
Cecilia Galante, author of The Sweetness of Salt, has crafted a well written and well-balanced young adult novel. It’s an emotionally charged novel that examines what happens when familial bonds are broken. It’s heartwrenchingly real and heartwarming authentic. Readers will immediately identify with both Julia and whirlwind Sophie, and will be able to see a little bit of themselves within these characters. Galante’s characters are what really drives this book. They are thought-provoking, complex, and most of all honest. Each one plays a key role within the story, shaping not only Julia’s life, but the reader’s experience.
The Sweetness of Salt’s chapters are short, sweet, and move straight to the heart of that matter. Each chapter is fluent and sails smoothly from one into the next. It’s like reading a puzzle – each chapter is a different piece that seamlessly into another. This is a definite quality of the book, and one that makes this a hard book to put down.
But what Galante really excels at is creating a book that is full of various genres. There really is something for everyone; from the realistic aspects of the book, to the budding romance that blooms, and still the mystery, suspense, and intrigue of the family secret.