Monday, October 29, 2012

Shelf Life [adult]

The Salt God’s Daughter by Ilie Ruby
@SPL: FIC Ruby  
Magical realism is a fiction genre that incorporates mythic elements into an otherwise realistic story. This layer of the mythic highlights the strangeness of reality, makes it brighter, more surreal. At its best, magical realism can provide crystalline, almost psychedelic insight into everyday truths taken for granted.
In The Salt God’s Daughter, author Ilie Ruby weaves an epic tale that follows the lives of three generations of women in one family. Diana is a hippie whose life is ruled by full moons, farmers’ almanacs and Jewish mysticism. She and her daughters live a transient, rootless lifestyle in southern California. While both Dolly and Ruthie long for a more stable life than the one they grew up in, they’re both profoundly affected by their mother’s spiritual outlook.
When Ruthie finally has a daughter of her own, the mysticism surrounding her mother’s memory wells back up and winds around her own relationships, defining how Dolly, Ruthie, and daughter Naida see the world and each other.
Like all the best magical realism, Ruby resists the urge to explain which elements of the story are myth and which are reality. With a resonantly Piscean tone, Ruby weaves in elements of Scottish silkie folklore among the brilliant SoCal landscape and strands of Jewish mysticism.
The end effect is masterful, rich enough to get lost in. The Salt God’s Daughter is highly recommended to any readers who love magical realism.
This review appeared in The Stratford Gazette on October 25, 2012. Written by Shauna Thomas, Librarian.

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