A magic passed down through generations…
Georgina Fernweh waits with growing impatience for the tingle of magic in her fingers—magic that has been passed down through every woman in her family. Her twin sister, Mary, already shows an ability to defy gravity. But with their eighteenth birthday looming at the end of this summer, Georgina fears her gift will never come.
An island where strange things happen…
No one on the island of By-the-Sea would ever call the Fernwehs what they really are, but if you need the odd bit of help—say, a sleeping aid concocted by moonlight—they are the ones to ask.
No one questions the weather, as moody and erratic as a summer storm.
No one questions the (allegedly) three-hundred-year-old bird who comes to roost on the island every year.
A summer that will become legend…
When tragedy strikes, what made the Fernweh women special suddenly casts them in suspicion. Over the course of her last summer on the island—a summer of storms, of love, of salt—Georgina will learn the truth about magic, in all its many forms.
WOW. This book is really good. I’ve never read anything by Katrina Leno, so I wasn’t really sure what I was getting into when I requested Summer of Salt. The premise sounded intriguing though, so I decided to go for it, and I’m so, so glad I did. Here are the reasons why I loved this book:
1. The family relationships.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a little while, you probably know that I’m a total sucker for sister books. Books about sisters (and siblings in general) are one of my favorite types of books. The dynamic between Georgina Ferweh and her twin sister Mary is complicated and beautiful and realistic (despite the fact that Mary can literally float.)
I also loved reading about their potion-making mom, who was such an interesting character. Many YA books totally leave out the parents, but Penelope Fernweh was a very important character.
2. The side characters.
Georgina’s friend Vira (short for Elvira) is such a precious little goth cinnamon roll. She creates morbid ice cream flavors at the parlor where she works (Broken Hearts of Lovers, Frozen Blood, etc.), lives with her mom in an apartment filled with taxidermy, and keeps an Ouija board in her closet. I also loved the adorable bird-watching sibling duo, Prue and Harrison. (Prue could’ve been developed a bit more, but I still loved them.)
3. The writing.
Leno’s writing is absolutely stunning. It’s gorgeous but not overly flowery; the perfect blend.
4. The plot.
I was expecting more of a light, summer read, but what I got was a gripping and mysterious book that kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading. Everything about the plot is intriguing, from the Fernweh women’s magical powers to the bird watchers to the romance.
5. The feminist messages.
Summer of Salt reinforces some SUPER important messages, like the fact that no girl is “asking to be raped,” regardless of her sexual history.
(content warning: rape)
6. The diversity.
Georgina is lesbian, Elvira is aroace, and there’s a non-straight love interest. One super awesome thing that was mentioned in Joanna’s wonderful review that I want to highlight is that Georgina accepts her sexuality and is completely accepted by others. Like Joanna said, it is very important to have books that depict the struggles of LGBTQ+ individuals, as those struggles are so very real, but it’s equally important to have books like Summer of Salt where a sapphic relationship is normalized and accepted. LGBTQ+ people deserve books about being LGBTQ+, and they also deserve books that have LGBTQ+ characters but where their genders/sexualities are not the main focal point of the book.
7. The aesthetic.
Summer of Salt just has such a spooky and magical vibe. Everything is so weird and odd and I loved it to pieces. Though it has “summer” in the title, this felt like the sort of book you might want to read on Halloween.
Anyway, I was itching to make a book aesthetic, and so I did!
As you can tell, I adored this book. I only have one small complaint, which is that Georgina and Mary drink alcohol (they’re underage) and it’s not really addressed? Their mom knows, and she doesn’t really seem to care, which did not seem to me like the best message to be putting into a book marketed towards teenagers.
All in all, Summer of Salt took my expectations and smashed them into a million pieces and then shaped them into a beautiful piece of art. (Does this metaphor make sense? I don’t think it makes sense.) I absolutely loved it! I’ve already shelved it on my “best of 2018” Goodreads shelf. Let me know in the comments: are you planning on reading Summer of Salt? How do you feel about sibling books?
Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book! This is no way affected my review.