Friday YA: Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno

Georgina Fernweh is approaching her seventeenth birthday when she will leave the island for the first time ever and live on the mainland and go to college. Going to college is usually a huge event in a persons life, but in Georgina’s case turning seventeen may be even bigger because she still hasn’t manifested her magic. First, she has to get through the summer as the island gets overrun with the Annabelle birdwatchers who arrive annually to catch a glimpse of a very rare bird. In their midst is a beautiful girl and her brother who help change the way Georgina see’s her future and herself.

I loved the mix of magical and reality. Georgina comes from a family of women who are gifted in different ways. Her twin sister’s gift is as mischievous and willful, matching the nature of the girl herself. Georgina, with her lack of magic, is the realist in the family and when tragedy strikes, she finds courage within herself to face the darkness and help her friends and family find the light. This novel dealt with a very difficult subject (rape) but did it in a way that matched the tone of the novel. There’s not much that’s magical about rape, but there can be magic in justice.

Katrina Leno has a magical way with storytelling. The flow of this novel, as with those I’ve read in the past, is very gentle, like the ebb and flow of the surf on the island Georgina lives on. When the conflict hits, that gentle flow is halted with a jerk and then the pace of the novel speeds up increasing your pulse right along with it. I forgot to read the synopsis before I started the book and so the magical bits were a pleasant surprise. Even more pleasant was the surprise that Georgina was secure in her sexuality as a young gay woman. This novel didn’t surprise us with her sexuality, it was built into her character, part of what made Georgina tick and wasn’t the conflict of the plot. It was a sidebar to her lack of magic being the main plot focus making her character feel totally natural. I liked that and I liked her.

If you like good books with a touch of magical realism, I think you should give Summer of Salt a try. You’ll be surprised by the richness of the characters and charmed by the writing. I believe you’ll even track down another of Katrina Leno’s books because you’ll want to see if she can be this good a second time. I’d recommend Everything All At Once! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Summer of Salt

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