Gabriela Garcia's Of Women and Salt traces a lineage of five generations of women - mothers and daughters - across the Latin American diaspora. It begins in nineteenth-century Cuba: young María Isabel is the only woman working at a cigar factory, where each day the workers are read Victor Hugo and encouraged to recognize their value and strength. But these are dangerous political times, and as María begins to see marriage and motherhood as her only options for survival, the sounds of war are approaching. As María seeks personal emancipation through learning to read, the world around her is destroyed forever.
Decades later, in 2012, María Isabel's descendant Jeanette is recovering from addiction. When she makes a snap decision to take in Andrea, her neighbour Gloria's daughter, after Gloria is detained by immigration officers, her life looks likely to take a new turn. Gloria, stuck in a detention centre, wonders where she might hope to bring up her child safely, and a few years earlier Yolanda, a political immigrant from Cuba, must process her difficult relationship with her own mother and with her husband while raising her wayward daughter Jeanette.
When Jeanette travels to Cuba to see her grandmother, she discovers a book of María Isabel's that promises to link her more fully to her own heritage. Then finally, in 2017, at the border between Mexico and Texas, a grown-up Andrea makes a dangerous and determined journey in an effort to give herself the best chance at life - her erroneous memory of Jeanette's kindness driving her on.
Moving backwards and forwards in time, Of Women and Salt follows Latina women of fierce pride and longing, all irrevocably linked by the inheritance of trauma, and the writings and stories passed between them.