The Taste of Salt

by Martha Southgate


The cure for anything is salt water-
sweat, tears, or the sea.


These words by Isak Dinesen begin The Taste of Salt and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a quote used more appropriately. All three play roles in this family story mostly about how addiction affects the members – users and non-users.


Josie Henderson has always been drawn to the sea. Even when the only body of water she could get to was a river in her hometown of Cleveland. Growing up as the daughter of an alcoholic, Josie left home as soon as she was able and created a life for herself as a marine scientist, one of the few black women in her field. But when her younger brother Tick, an addict himself, is released from yet another rehab, the past that she has worked so hard to put behind her comes rushing back. Josie is forced to face her own addictions and the fragility of the marriage that she is in.


One of the reasons that I love Martha Southgate’s works, is that she is a master at relating the subleties of family dynamics and she also writes about issues of race in a compelling and thoughtful way. Her decision to make Josie a scientist made me really happy. You don’t see black women (or men, for that matter) portrayed in novels in fields of study like science. Loved it. 


I also recommend you read one of my favorites by Southgate, Third Girl From the Left.

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