I recently picked up Summer of Salt as Book #13 for my TBR-Haul Project. Checking ’em off feels good!
I originally hauled this book in December 2018, receiving it as a Christmas gift from my partner. Since then, even though I have read other works from Katrina Leno and really enjoyed them, I never picked this one up.
When I saw this was an option for my next selection for my project, I was so excited. I was looking forward to heading into Leno’s backlist for this magical YA Contemporary novel.
From the synopsis, I felt like it would be a perfect, cozy November read and boy, was it ever!
Summer of Salt follows Georgina Fernweh and her twin sister, Mary. The girls live on a little island called By-the-Sea, with their mother, who owns an Inn.
Even though the island is tiny, it has some very special features. The one that draws the most attention is the fact that a mysterious, one-0f-a-kind bird, who the locals have dubbed Annabella, makes their shores her annual summer destination.
Whilst there, Annabella nests solo for a couple of months before moving on. Her residence on island brings many, many birders to the island as well. These birdheads are intrigued by Annabella. They want to see her, study her, just be near her.
She’s rare, she’s beautiful, she’s the Margot Robbie of birds.
Like Annabella herself, the birdheads return year after year, most of them staying at the Fernweh Inn. The Fernweh family is tied to this by more than the tourists though, they share an unexpected link to Annabella as well.
When something happens that disrupts this annual tradition, the island is thrown off it’s normal course. Things get dark, the rain starts and many truths are revealed.
I adored every aspect of this book. From the very first chapter the atmosphere that Leno created was exactly what I was looking for. I could taste the salt and the magic. I fell in love with the characters and the rich traditions of the island.
Honestly, Summer of Salt is one of the most beautiful stories that I have ever read. This one hit me hard. IYKYK.
I love how Leno blended whimsy with darker subject matter. It was the perfect ratio. I felt so connected to these characters and everything they were going through as they navigated their last summer on island before college.
The magical realism elements were incredibly well done too; engaging and easy to understand. There’s actually a number of different topics explored within this and I found it sort of surprising how well they all worked together.
Sometimes it will seem like a book doesn’t know what kind of story it is trying to be when so many things are meshed together, but that was absolutely not the case here. It was really beautifully constructed.
As a person who lives on a small island, 30-miles out to sea, I can also attest to the fact that Leno nailed these New England island vibes. I was definitely relating to it.
You can probably tell, this story touched my heart. I will remember this magical and eye-opening story for a long time to come. 10-out-of-10 recommend!