Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Taste of Salt

Frances Temple's novel, Taste of Salt, has stayed with me for years. I originally read it with a class when we were studying Haitian immigration. As terrible events occur in Haiti, I go back to this story and its engrossing and original plot.

After an attack from the rebels, Tonton Macoutes, Djo is laid up in a hospital. Due to his faithful service to Aristide, the Catholic priest turned president, Djo is given care in a free hospital opened by the leader. It is during this time that Jeremie, a girl with a promising future, begins to record his life story.

I really liked that the novel is split up between Djo's story and the scenes of his conversation with Jeremie. It provides the reader respite from the horrors of his daily life. Both Djo and Jeremie are extremely likable, giving readers characters they can identify with as they read the current news about Haiti. It was especially poignant to read Taste of Salt with Bahamian students, knowing that Haitian immigration is a pressing concern in their country. Instead of spouting what they hear their parents say, they learned why Haitian need to leave their homeland and they were able to form their own opinions.

Finally, there is one scene with a coffin that I think about constantly. I don't want to give anything away, but when you read that section, know that it has moved me on so many occasions. I highly recommend this novel.

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