Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno || Book Review

“On the island of By-the-Sea you could always smell two things: salt and magic.”

Synopsis: A magic passed down through generations . . .

Georgina Fernweh waits with growing impatience for the tingle of magic in her fingers—magic that has been passed down through every woman in her family. Her twin sister, Mary, already shows an ability to defy gravity. But with their eighteenth birthday looming at the end of this summer, Georgina fears her gift will never come.

An island where strange things happen . . . No one on the island of By-the-Sea would ever call the Fernwehs what they really are, but if you need the odd bit of help—say, a sleeping aid concocted by moonlight—they are the ones to ask. No one questions the weather, as moody and erratic as a summer storm. No one questions the (allegedly) three-hundred-year-old bird who comes to roost on the island every year.

A summer that will become legend . . . When tragedy strikes, what made the Fernweh women special suddenly casts them in suspicion. Over the course of her last summer on the island—a summer of storms, of love, of salt—Georgina will learn the truth about magic, in all its many forms.

Source: Goodreads

Title: Summer of Salt
Author: Katrina Leno
Published on June 5th 2018 by HarperTeen
Format: Hardcover, 265 pages

Genre / Themes: Contemporary | Realistic Fiction | Romance
Point of View: First Person

A LONG while ago, I did a buddy read with Laurie @ Read Between the Skylines ; thank you so much for reading Summer of Salt with me! Leno’s novel was honestly a roller-coaster of emotions … one minute, I felt this complete and utter bliss at the description of the island. Then my heart is torn apart by the atrocities that occur to such lovable characters in this novel. This novel will wreck you, but the story and message behind the story is incredibly powerful and important … I’m considering this a MUST read at this point.

The Pros

↠ The atmospheric writing beautifully captures all the different genres and elements blended into this story.
↠ I absolutely love Leno’s miraculous use of symbolism in this novel, reflecting the pain and emotions the characters feel.
↠ Leno includes so much diversity in this novel, without making it feel forced.
↠ The pro-feminism in this novel’s empowering, giving a real look at women suffering by also their strength to overcome such ordeals.

The Woes

↠ The story progresses too fast, leaving too many untold details to help elaborate the story and characters.
↠ I found myself growing bored of the story.
↠ The romance in the story didn’t really develop into anything, making it feel pointless.
↠ The ‘evil man’ stereotype felt regressive.


Summer of Salt entices readers through its beautifully crafted setting and a unique look into magical realism. The description of the island life is breathtaking, drawing upon that simple and dreamlike vibe. But what really captured my attention is the Fernweh’s magic abilities; it’s such a unique take on magic, feeling even more beautiful and intriguing than other novels I’ve encountered with magic. The overall message behind Leno’s story’s incredibly meaningful and important. Though women’s rights has grown, we still face so many social stigmas and judgements regarding our bodies and personalities and freedoms. It’s still so regressive how some people think … there needs to be an end to it. This goes beyond women, such as gender stereotypes and prejudice towards the LGBT community.

I recommend this novel if you enjoy: magic in a contemporary setting; island settings; lots of diversity; non-standard magic; focus on familial love.

Discussion time!

Have you read Leno’s Summer of Salt? What were your thoughts on the novel?




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Author of Bookmark Your Thoughts, both the Tumblr and WordPress book review blogs. I'm a tea drinking, book loving librarian who just loves literature.

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