Summer of Salt is a book I’ve been hearing lovely things about lately and I’m so very glad it met my expectations. Going into this book, I thought it would be just a cute sapphic contemporary with a few whimsical elements but it is so much more.
Summer of Salt follows 17 year old Georgina Fernweh. Magic has been passed down through every woman in the Fernweh family for generations, but for reasons unknown, Georgina’s gift hasn’t come yet. Her twin sister, Mary, has been defying gravity since the day she was born, and with the twins’ 18th birthday coming closer, Georgina is worried her gift will never come. The people of By-The-Sea— the tiny island this book takes place— know about the Fenweh’s gifts, and don’t question erratic weather or sleeping potions or a 300 year old bird called Annabella. However, when tragedy strikes and Annabella is found murdered, the Fernweh women must navigate the summer living under the scrutiny and suspicion of everyone on By-The-Sea.
Summer of Salt is an incredibly atmospheric novel, with some of the most beautiful and whimsical writing I’ve ever read. I adored the quirky and unique setting of By-The-Sea, and I felt that the fabulism worked excellently within this setting. The writing was beautiful and immersive and it was all to easy to get swept up with the lovely cast of characters.
I really liked all of the characters in Summer of Salt. They were all interesting in their own unconventional ways and I adored the family and friend dynamics explored. I really appreciated that there were great, healthy female friendships in here because I find they are always lacking in YA. The characters had some great dialogue— I find myself especially enamored by Mary. I just loved her character so much and her dialogue with Georgina made me laugh out loud on quite a few occasions. Georgina and Prue’s interactions were all so cute and I loved them together.
The last part of this book takes a very hard-hitting turn, but I feel that Leno handled it well. There’s a great exploration of the affects of sexual assault and conversations about the right to consent. I loved that the story challenged slut-shaming and rape culture and discussed that no matter how many people a woman has slept with, you are not owed her body.
Unfortunately, I do have a couple small complaints about the book. I personally would’ve liked to have seen more character development. I really loved the cast of characters, but I feel like I didn’t really know them all that well. A large part of the book is taken up by the search and discovery of Annabella’s body, and then explores the grief the whole island feels from her death. I think this is explored well, however since this was such a short book, there wasn’t much room for actual character and relationship development.
I also felt that the pacing was kind of off a little, and some parts at the end felt very rushed. I feel like the end of the second part and then all of the third part went by really quickly. I feel like the pacing issues may come from how short the book was, and if given a little more room, it could’ve been fleshed out a little more.
Overall I really adored Summer of Salt. It’s one of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read, I loved the cast of characters and I really appreciated the discussion around sexual assault towards the end of the book. I’m certainly looking forward to reading Katrina Leno’s backlist now and I can’t wait to see what else she releases in the future. Thanks so much to Melanie @ Mel to the Any for buddy reading this with me!!
REPRESENTATION: lesbian main character, multiple gender attracted love interest, aroace best friend
CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNINGS: sexual assault