Cover image for The Salt God's daughter
Title:
The Salt God's daughter
Author:
Ruby, Ilie, author.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Berkeley, CA : Soft Skull Press, [2012]

©2012
Physical Description:
338 pages ; 24 cm
Summary:
Ruth and her older sister, Dolly, struggle for survival in a place governed by an enchanted ocean and exotic folklore after their mother, who was ruled by magic and elaborately-told stories of the full moons, which she drew from the "The Old Farmers Almanac" dies.
Language:
English
Geographic Term:
ISBN:
9781619020023
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

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 natural beauty, meteorological myths, and exotic folklore. Raised by a mother drawn to the ocean and guided by the moons, their heritage is a mystery and their mother often absent, forcing the two girls to confront the social and sexual mores of the time on their own, caught in the riptide of a culture that alternately glorifies and demonizes female sexuality. Ruthie's daughter, Naida, is born into this conflicting landscape with a secret she tries to keep hidden, bullied and harassed by her peers as she seeks out the father she never knew. Woven with a traditional Scottish folktale and hints of Jewish mysticism, this examines how far we'll go to find our place in a world that is often hostile to those who are different.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Award-winning Ruby (The Language of Trees, 2010) takes readers to early 1970s California, where young Ruthie and her older sister, Dolly, are experiencing an unconventional childhood. Their often transient mother, the tragically poetic Diana, raises her daughters on the road, relying on the Farmer's Almanac to guide them to each destination. When Diana unexpectedly dies, Ruthie and Dolly are sent to a residential home, where the two teenagers rebel against its restrictions. Though Dolly is headstrong and determined, Ruthie struggles with abandonment, violation, and loneliness. Nearing adulthood, Ruthie returns to a place from her past, an old motel turned into a retirement community, where her relationships with the elderly residents offer the solace she so desires. Here Ruthie falls in love with elusive, mysterious fisherman Graham. But when their daughter, Naida, is born, Graham disappears. As Naida grows up, she yearns for the father she never knew, while her mystical connection to the ocean leads to new secrets. Lushly woven with elements of folklore, Ruby's novel is a captivating inquiry into the generational, wayward bonds of mothers and daughters.--Strauss, Leah Copyright 2010 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Ruby's second novel (after The Language of Trees) imbues the complex relationships between mothers and daughters with legends and feminist mysticism to create a confusing family history dotted with magical realism. Ruthie and Dolly's mother, Diana, is dramatic and unreliable, part Pied Piper, part con artist. The family drifts (both girls' fathers are absent and unexplained), but Diana finds herself drawn to Long Beach, Calif., where she's a housekeeper at a motel and watches the omnipresent sea lions. There, the girls find a settled life until alcoholism and depression hasten their mother's death and they move into the care of nuns at a home for teenage girls. The nuns are both overwhelmed by the worldly life of their charges and caring stewards of womanhood. As a young woman, with one brief marriage already behind her, Ruthie moves back to work at the motel, now a nursing home, where she falls in love with a mysterious fisherman she calls "the Salt God." Family secrets and otherworldly powers slowly unfold until all is explained. Though Ruby's writing is elegant and insightful, particularly in revealing the ways in which the mother-daughter bond can end in disappointment, the long time line and haphazard mythologies muddle the tale. Agent: Sally Wofford-Girand, Brick House. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

In her second novel (after The Language of Trees), Ruby traces three generations of women in a single family. Diana, a charming but unreliable, hard-drinking single mother, gives daughters Dolly and Ruth a rootless existence. As an adult escaping an abusive marriage, Ruth returns to work at a former motel in Long Beach, CA, now a nursing home, where she had spent the happiest and most stable years of her childhood. There she falls in love with Graham, a Scottish fisherman who appears only at the full moon and who disappears entirely after the birth of their daughter, Naida, an unusual child with the gift of prophecy. Naida (a variant of Naiad, or "water nymph") is as strangely drawn to the sea as her grandmother Diana (Roman goddess of the moon) had been by the moon. Throughout, Ruby stresses the importance of legends, myths, symbols, and the stories we tell ourselves, as well as the emotional strength and courage of her troubled female characters and the enduring bonds between them. VERDICT Despite its derivative title (it seems as if every other novel these days is about someone's daughter or wife) this is a lyrical, multigenerational coming-of-age tale that will appeal to fans of magical realism.-Lauren Gilbert, Sachem P.L., Holbrook, NY (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.