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Set in Long Beach, California, beginning in the 1970s, The Salt God’s Daughter follows Ruthie and her sister, Dolly, as they carve out a life in a place filled with meteorological myths and exotic folklore, where female rites of passage are met with startling discoveries. Raised by a mother drawn to the ocean and guided by the moons, their heritage is a mystery and with their mother often absent, they are forced to confront the social and sexual mores of the time on their own as they search for true love and a home. Ruthie's daughter, Naida, is born into this conflicted landscape with a secret she tries to keep hidden as she seeks out the father she never knew. Woven with a traditional Scottish folktale and hints of Jewish mysticism, The Salt God’s Daughter examines how far we’ll go to find our place in a world that is often hostile to those who are different.
The Salt God's Daughter isn't an overly long book, but it is full of poetic and descriptive writing. The story itself is gripping and I enjoyed the writing. But I do want to give fair warning, it does get wordy. Now you just have to decide if you like that or not. I thought it was beautiful and moved quickly through the tale.
It's split into two parts. The first part tells the story of Ruthie's childhood, which was mostly unsupervised and spent homeless and traveling. Ruthie grows up to give birth to Naida and swears her daughter will never question her love. Ruthie has a terrible fear of water, yet lives near the ocean. Her daughter, Naida, loves the Ocean completely.
There were plenty of happy moments within the story, but you spend a lot of time with your heart breaking for Ruthie and Naida. The author doesn't pretend that it's all rosy when you are considered to be on the fringe of society. If you are different, you are a target.
There is a hint of magic in this tale with the tale of the people with animal skins who live in the water, never really belonging on land or to the sea. Ruthie's mother was obsessed with the moon and drawn to the ocean. It wasn't presented in a way to be "true" but it is never quite written off either. I truly loved all the mini-tales within this book. I was sorry to finish.