Popping in quick to share my thoughts on a magical YA book with queer characters and the depth and character development I see most often in middle-grade.
Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno
Not My Edition: E-book – 272 pages – 2018 – HarperTeen – ISBN: 9780062493620
This is a story of life on a small island, a girl struggling to remain hopeful that she’ll inherit the magical powers the women of her family are known for, and love.
I read this because it’s a book Chelsea has raved about, it has queer characters, and it’s a witchy read. While the book is set in the summer, it still felt appropriate to read in the spooky season. It’s not, however, a particularly spooky book, if you’re worried about that.
This book is proof that it’s possible for me to enjoy YA! Our characters are teens on the verge of going off to college and they felt so real. Now, maybe this is because it’s a contemporary novel an there’s no fantasy princess-who-is-also-a-fairy-goddess-and-loved-by-three-hot-boys character. But I think it’s just because Leno created something wonderful. And there’s a budding romance too (f/f and there’s also some ace rep!), but it was done in a natural way. The relationship develops throughout the book and while there was an almost immediate connection, it was in no way insta-lovey and I’m so thankful. I think the characters and relationships are what reminded me of middle-grade, as they weren’t done in a way that I find to be typical of the YA genre.
This is a quiet sort of book that slowly unfolds its characters as the plot builds. There were some fantastical, dream-like elements at the end that could have made me scratch my head and pulled me out of the story. But, instead, Leno blended them in with the reality of our world and I was able to suspend my disbelief seamlessly.
I just really loved this book and the end made me cry real tears. I definitely recommend Summer of Salt if you’re looking for a coming-of-age story with a dash of magic – no matter what season it is!
*cover image from Amazon