Friday, October 19, 2012

Book Review: The Salt God's Daughter

By Cindy Roesel

It's not often that when reading a novel I’m rendered speechless, but that’s what happened while reading Ilie Ruby’s second novel, THE SALT GOD’S DAUGHTER. I found myself swallowed into a magical world, re-reading sentences so I didn’t miss their beauty. The novel was certainly unlike anything I expected and while this is a good thing, it created some distinct challenges as I sat down to write my perspective of the story. This "assignment" presented a refreshing task I normally I don’t engage in when writing a review, so here it goes.

THE SALT GOD’S DAUGHTER is set in 1970s Southern California, specifically Long Beach. Diana raises her two daughters Ruthie and Dolly in the back of the family station wagon driving around being guided by the "Old Farmer’s Almanac" and the moon’s calendar. Marginalized by society, Diana, an alcoholic; the kids never know where their next meal will come from and dumpster dive for the clothes on their back. They finally end up living in an old motel retirement home, Wild Acres on the beach run by Dr. B.

“If I told you that I ached for a different mother, I’d be lying. I ached for my own, every minute, as motherless daughters do.”

The first half of the novel is told by Diana. In the second half, Ruthie and her sister, Dolly are each other’s saviors. It adds up to a very complicated novel about mothers and daughters.

“She was our child. We didn’t know anything different. Everyone knew a mother was a daughter’s first love.”

Life is not easy for Ruthie and Dolly. The world does not understand them. Their lives are affected by rape, violence, poverty, but they are anchored by Wild Acres the people living there and the sea. Ruthie meets a man at a bar who works on a ship out at sea. He comes and goes, making no promises to her as he is somehow more committed to the sea, saying it is his job to protect the animals of the oceans.

THE SALT GOD’S DAUGHTER incorporates the Celtic tradition of the Selkie – creatures that appear as seals in the sea, but shed their skin to become human on land. If a loving relationship with a human develops, it can turn tragic because they cannot live together. Ruby uses folklore and myths to go back and forth between the 70s and current times.

Ilie Ruby is also an abstract painter. She paints whimsical, thought-provoking canvases with incredible movement. She uses mystical and ethereal realism in her painting as well as in her writing. It’s more spiritual than representational. Her novel is filled with myths and folklore - one might argue her writing is more based on myth than reality, as well.

THE SALT GOD’S DAUGHTER is not chick-lit. This is something very different. If you’re looking for something unique, I say go for it. It’s not a quick read. Plan on spending some time, and I think you’ll be happy you did.

Thanks to BookSparks PR for the book in exchange for an honest review. Join Ilie Ruby and BookSparks PR on October 24th to speak out against bullying. Please read Ilie's article about bullying that was published in Shape magazine.

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Anonymous said...

Sounds really intriguing. Thanks for sharing this review!

xx, Lauren

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ilie said...

I loved reading your thoughts about the book! Thanks so much for taking the time to review it!

Anna Garner said...

Wow, sounds like a fascinating read!

Libby :-)

Anonymous said...

I hope everyone gets to read your novel, Ilie. Thank you for your feedback, Lauren and Libby.

Rivki Silver said...

This sounds like an intriguing read, and right up my alley. I'm adding it to my Goodreads to-read list!

Framed prints chick said...

The title draws you in - very intriguing. Thanks for the review, I might just order this one!