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The Weight of Salt

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Florida, 1906 – In the northeast section of Tampa, called Ybor City and known as The Cigar Capital of the World, comes an intimate part of American history that is seldom found in books and susceptible to be forgotten. Although fiction, The Weight of Salt is inspired by a real person, a real time, and real events. Fifteen-year-old, Angelina Pirrello is bright and excited fo Florida, 1906 – In the northeast section of Tampa, called Ybor City and known as The Cigar Capital of the World, comes an intimate part of American history that is seldom found in books and susceptible to be forgotten. Although fiction, The Weight of Salt is inspired by a real person, a real time, and real events. Fifteen-year-old, Angelina Pirrello is bright and excited for her life to begin when she is abruptly torn from her mother’s love and is left to abide by her father’s rigid Italian beliefs. It is the era of unprecedented immigration, the Mafia is terrorizing Italian neighborhoods and store owners, and the fierce fight of the Suffragettes to gain the vote for women. It is a time when dreams of American freedoms are celebrated and threatened. The old world across the sea clashes with the new, and a young girl must make a choice to fortify or forfeit her spirit. Yet, in the midst of the biggest fire in Florida’s history, and the loss of legions of cigar factories, amid the chaos, Angelina unexpectedly encounters Rolando and soon discovers the force of falling in love. Yet, her dreams are quickly shattered when her father ignores her desire to marry for love and promises her hand in an arranged marriage to an older man she dislikes. This novel touches on every human emotion, love, joy, heartbreak, passion, and the unexpected. Only because those who lived this story have passed away and cannot testify, this novel is historical fiction and not simply historical fact. With powerful insight and sensitivity, Sandra Montanino’s debut novel illuminates this long-ago story. She brings us a beautiful, warm, inspiring, yet heartbreakingly novel that celebrates the resilience of one girl. This is a novel for everyone and a tribute to those who lived through it all and those that told and retold their story.


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Florida, 1906 – In the northeast section of Tampa, called Ybor City and known as The Cigar Capital of the World, comes an intimate part of American history that is seldom found in books and susceptible to be forgotten. Although fiction, The Weight of Salt is inspired by a real person, a real time, and real events. Fifteen-year-old, Angelina Pirrello is bright and excited fo Florida, 1906 – In the northeast section of Tampa, called Ybor City and known as The Cigar Capital of the World, comes an intimate part of American history that is seldom found in books and susceptible to be forgotten. Although fiction, The Weight of Salt is inspired by a real person, a real time, and real events. Fifteen-year-old, Angelina Pirrello is bright and excited for her life to begin when she is abruptly torn from her mother’s love and is left to abide by her father’s rigid Italian beliefs. It is the era of unprecedented immigration, the Mafia is terrorizing Italian neighborhoods and store owners, and the fierce fight of the Suffragettes to gain the vote for women. It is a time when dreams of American freedoms are celebrated and threatened. The old world across the sea clashes with the new, and a young girl must make a choice to fortify or forfeit her spirit. Yet, in the midst of the biggest fire in Florida’s history, and the loss of legions of cigar factories, amid the chaos, Angelina unexpectedly encounters Rolando and soon discovers the force of falling in love. Yet, her dreams are quickly shattered when her father ignores her desire to marry for love and promises her hand in an arranged marriage to an older man she dislikes. This novel touches on every human emotion, love, joy, heartbreak, passion, and the unexpected. Only because those who lived this story have passed away and cannot testify, this novel is historical fiction and not simply historical fact. With powerful insight and sensitivity, Sandra Montanino’s debut novel illuminates this long-ago story. She brings us a beautiful, warm, inspiring, yet heartbreakingly novel that celebrates the resilience of one girl. This is a novel for everyone and a tribute to those who lived through it all and those that told and retold their story.

30 review for The Weight of Salt

  1. 4 out of 5

    Karla Jay

    I loved this book! The setting and details of immigrant life in Florida in the early 1900's were so richly described. Miss Montanino infuses the story with interesting and unique Sicilian cultural beliefs, (I learned so much about the cigar industry) sayings, and superstitions. She creates a believable main character in Angelina, that I was so invested in her hopes and dreams, and felt let down each time they were thwarted by tradition. This story is gritty as well as beautiful. I can't wait for I loved this book! The setting and details of immigrant life in Florida in the early 1900's were so richly described. Miss Montanino infuses the story with interesting and unique Sicilian cultural beliefs, (I learned so much about the cigar industry) sayings, and superstitions. She creates a believable main character in Angelina, that I was so invested in her hopes and dreams, and felt let down each time they were thwarted by tradition. This story is gritty as well as beautiful. I can't wait for the next book in the series! ~ Karla M. Jay, author of When We Were Brave and It Happened in Silence

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I have to scream.....THIS BOOK IS AMAZING! Oh My Heavens! I don’t even know where to start. The Weight of Salt is beyond excellent. Sandra writes with so much passion while bringing the characters and the scenes to life I felt like I was watching a movie every word just so vivid. From the moment I opened the book I felt a great connection with Sandra’s main character, Angelina. This is one of those special stories that will make you laugh and cry while cheering on Angelina for overcoming one str I have to scream.....THIS BOOK IS AMAZING! Oh My Heavens! I don’t even know where to start. The Weight of Salt is beyond excellent. Sandra writes with so much passion while bringing the characters and the scenes to life I felt like I was watching a movie every word just so vivid. From the moment I opened the book I felt a great connection with Sandra’s main character, Angelina. This is one of those special stories that will make you laugh and cry while cheering on Angelina for overcoming one struggle after another. A great book that teaches endurance and the will to stay strong. What an amazing story and then the final twist. All I can say is Read this book!!! I can’t wait to read her next book! Bravo Sandra Montanino.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Poptart19 (ren)

    3 stars [I received a free Goodreads Giveaway copy, & this is my honest review] I really liked this book! The world & characters are easy to envision. I enjoyed all the tidbits about cigar factories & Sicilian culture. However, this read like a YA novel in that the themes & writing were very straightforward, and at times trite. There wasn’t much foreshadowing or subtlety. In other words, it’s a solid debut novel from a talented writer, & I look forward to the rest of the series, which will hopefully 3 stars [I received a free Goodreads Giveaway copy, & this is my honest review] I really liked this book! The world & characters are easy to envision. I enjoyed all the tidbits about cigar factories & Sicilian culture. However, this read like a YA novel in that the themes & writing were very straightforward, and at times trite. There wasn’t much foreshadowing or subtlety. In other words, it’s a solid debut novel from a talented writer, & I look forward to the rest of the series, which will hopefully improve as the writer gains experience.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Susan Strayer

    This historical novel about Angelina, a daughter of Italian immigrants in Ybor City, Florida in the early 1900s, is fabulous! The loss of her mother starts an epic struggle for independence between her and her strict Italian father. There is thwarted love, un-arranged marriage, yearning for learning, humor and action, all written with clever prose and insight. The author really knows her stuff. I felt immersed in the history and culture of an Italian immigrant family in this unique time and place This historical novel about Angelina, a daughter of Italian immigrants in Ybor City, Florida in the early 1900s, is fabulous! The loss of her mother starts an epic struggle for independence between her and her strict Italian father. There is thwarted love, un-arranged marriage, yearning for learning, humor and action, all written with clever prose and insight. The author really knows her stuff. I felt immersed in the history and culture of an Italian immigrant family in this unique time and place. Bravo!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cristina Heim

    A love story of an Italian immigrant's daughter and her fight to find herself, be independent and strong, when the old country’s traditions try to suppress her. It is so good. There are so many great nuggets of wisdom and life lessons. I thought the story was going one way but then it has a twist. At times I did not know if I should cry, scream, or shout for joy. Her journey is amazing. She is a strong and true character you cannot help but fall in love with. I cannot wait to read more about her A love story of an Italian immigrant's daughter and her fight to find herself, be independent and strong, when the old country’s traditions try to suppress her. It is so good. There are so many great nuggets of wisdom and life lessons. I thought the story was going one way but then it has a twist. At times I did not know if I should cry, scream, or shout for joy. Her journey is amazing. She is a strong and true character you cannot help but fall in love with. I cannot wait to read more about her journey!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Maddison Holt

    I can’t believe how quickly Sandra drew me into the story. The setting was so detailed and the characters so interesting and well defined. They immediately came alive as well as the immigrant world of 1906 Ybor City, Florida. I learned so much about the Italian culture and Angelina, strong and determined drove the whole story to its powerful end

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kaitlyn Edwards

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is a great story about an Italian immigrant turned suffragette when she is forced to quit high school to help support her family. It’s an emotional roller coaster and you find yourself rooting for the main character. I can’t wait for the next book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Billy Buttons

    THE WISHING SHELF BOOK AWARDS 18th March 2021 TITLE: The Weight of Salt AUTHOR: Sandra Montanino Star Rating: 5 “This is a compelling historical novel, made rich by the complexity of the characters and the author’s understanding of place and time.” The Wishing Shelf REVIEW I find that often historical romance can be a bit of a mixed bag. It's a very popular genre and, as a result, it can attract weaker authors looking for a quick buck. Thankfully, that's not the case here. In this novel, the author ha THE WISHING SHELF BOOK AWARDS 18th March 2021 TITLE: The Weight of Salt AUTHOR: Sandra Montanino Star Rating: 5 “This is a compelling historical novel, made rich by the complexity of the characters and the author’s understanding of place and time.” The Wishing Shelf REVIEW I find that often historical romance can be a bit of a mixed bag. It's a very popular genre and, as a result, it can attract weaker authors looking for a quick buck. Thankfully, that's not the case here. In this novel, the author has done a remarkable job, offering the reader an interesting and wonderfully described historical setting, a host of complex, often charismatic characters, and even a little romance. It is also a fascinating insight into Sicilian culture and the ups and downs of an immigrant family living in America . Finally, it is a strong coming of age story as Angelina, the protagonist, attempts to find her way in her world of restrictive Sicilian social norms and a more progressive life in her new country. So, let's talk writing style. The author, Sandra Montanino, is a talented woman. There's a good flow to the writing, interspersed with a well-balanced mix of speech and descriptive prose. The author seems to understand that a book of this nature (historical / family saga) needs a lot of pace. Things need to happen and, thankfully, lots of things do. It's all rather gritty and dark, but there is a sprinkle of humor from a few of the characters - not a lot, but a little - and a complexity to the characters perfectly matching the complexity of the culture and plot. So now to the important bit - can I recommend this book and who too ? The answer is simple. Yes, absolutely. It's an excellent read and I think many readers will get lost in the historical world the author has recreated. Who to? Well, I think anybody who enjoys family sagas, historical novels and/or romance will find this book gripping. Also, anybody interested in this time and place, and how Sicilian/Italian culture molded immigrant culture at that time, will find a lot to enjoy here. All in all, this is a very pleasurable read. A ‘Wishing Shelf’ Book Review www.thewsa.co.uk

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jody Rasmussen

    My friend gave this book to me and told me to read the first chapter and tell her what I thought. I read the first chapter and then another until I finished the book :) This book had plenty of action and excitement that made me want to keep reading. I had never read a historical fiction about Italian immigrants in Florida and loved learning about what their life was like, their struggles, and traditions. I'm looking forward to the next book! My friend gave this book to me and told me to read the first chapter and tell her what I thought. I read the first chapter and then another until I finished the book :) This book had plenty of action and excitement that made me want to keep reading. I had never read a historical fiction about Italian immigrants in Florida and loved learning about what their life was like, their struggles, and traditions. I'm looking forward to the next book!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Susan Lewallen

    I heard the author speak on a podcast. I was intrigued by her multicultural background, so I bought the book. It’s set around 1906, in Florida, where 15-year-old Angelina loses her mother in the first chapter as the woman is giving birth to her 7th child. Her outrageously strict, chauvinistic, macho Sicilian father will henceforth rule Angelina’s life as she struggles to help with the family grocery store, raise the 5 younger siblings, and stay in school. The latter quickly falls by the wayside I heard the author speak on a podcast. I was intrigued by her multicultural background, so I bought the book. It’s set around 1906, in Florida, where 15-year-old Angelina loses her mother in the first chapter as the woman is giving birth to her 7th child. Her outrageously strict, chauvinistic, macho Sicilian father will henceforth rule Angelina’s life as she struggles to help with the family grocery store, raise the 5 younger siblings, and stay in school. The latter quickly falls by the wayside as her father demands she go to work in a cigar factory where he believes she’ll be safe until he can get her married off to the man (must be Sicilian!) of his choice. Angelina is strong willed and determined. She often fights with her father, but is always overruled. Her love for this odious man did not seem believable to me. There are several colorful and entertaining characters: her uncle, Cuban friends, and a neighbor. I learned something about the cigar industry at that time and place. I think the makings of a good story are here, but there was something not quite right, some lack of nuance in characters. Everything is high drama, almost to the point of chaos, as in the first chapter. It’s conflict on steroids and maybe that’s what keeps the characters from seeming real. I think it fits the YA genre best and I’d have liked it more if it were classified that way. It’s a good debut novel.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    What a great debut novel by Sandra! I loved the main character Angelina and found the historical and cultural detail so interesting. The storytelling is so good I felt I was in Florida at the turn of the century. I can’t wait for book two!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Devin

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I highly recommend this book to everyone it’s just so good and well written. I don’t read many novels because I’m ADHD and I have to reread things over again because I lose my concentration easy. This book was recommended and I never once lost my concentration it’s just that good. It’s like watching a movie everything is so well explained and the characters are amazing. Will definitely read book 2 and 3.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    Everyone should read this book! Such a good story. All your emotions are in it. It will make you cry, laugh, even get mad. The characters are so good. Uncle Pasquale will definitely make you laugh such a positive character and my favorite. From the beginning to end, this book is fantastic without a dull moment in it. Can’t wait for book two. Great author.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Bendoski

    The weight of Salt is excellent, but the dialogue is by far my favorite. I find even after a single reading I can still recall some of my favorite quotes. It dives deep into the experience of early Italian immigrants in the 1900s, the clash of the culture of their old lives and the new ones their children are trying to build. Sandra Montanino connects many of the threads of history that are often left separate, factory labor in connection with the early arrival of the Mafia, and patriarchy gover The weight of Salt is excellent, but the dialogue is by far my favorite. I find even after a single reading I can still recall some of my favorite quotes. It dives deep into the experience of early Italian immigrants in the 1900s, the clash of the culture of their old lives and the new ones their children are trying to build. Sandra Montanino connects many of the threads of history that are often left separate, factory labor in connection with the early arrival of the Mafia, and patriarchy governing the lives of women at the turn of the century. Some books I enjoy as a guilty pleasure, others a distraction, and others to learn but this is both a joy to read and worthy of reading.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Janet Peters

    A richly, engaging story of Italian heritage that I savored with each turn of the page. Sandra Montanino captured the zest, passion, frustrations of a young woman breaking away from family traditions to achieve a life of her own. I found myself rooting for Angelina the whole way through.The writing is superb with humorous anecdotes riddled throughout her book. Her debut novel will linger in your mind long after you've finished, The Weight of Salt. Bravo! A richly, engaging story of Italian heritage that I savored with each turn of the page. Sandra Montanino captured the zest, passion, frustrations of a young woman breaking away from family traditions to achieve a life of her own. I found myself rooting for Angelina the whole way through.The writing is superb with humorous anecdotes riddled throughout her book. Her debut novel will linger in your mind long after you've finished, The Weight of Salt. Bravo!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    I thoroughly enjoyed this coming of age story in early 1900's America. The book is crammed with charming and witty anecdotes pulled from Italian-American culture. The humor is delightful and the story engaging. If you want to get pulled into another time in American history, this is a great choice. I thoroughly enjoyed this coming of age story in early 1900's America. The book is crammed with charming and witty anecdotes pulled from Italian-American culture. The humor is delightful and the story engaging. If you want to get pulled into another time in American history, this is a great choice.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Grant

    Sandra Montanino takes us back to a time of great change in the United States in her historic romance drama The Weight of Salt! Angelina Pirrello is growing up in a time of upheaval, where the struggle to gain the women’s vote is ongoing and the mafia is making its rise. But when she falls in love, she must learn to persevere as her father promises her to an older man. I love the richness of the time period Montanino chose and the many storylines she expertly weaves together! And the writing in Sandra Montanino takes us back to a time of great change in the United States in her historic romance drama The Weight of Salt! Angelina Pirrello is growing up in a time of upheaval, where the struggle to gain the women’s vote is ongoing and the mafia is making its rise. But when she falls in love, she must learn to persevere as her father promises her to an older man. I love the richness of the time period Montanino chose and the many storylines she expertly weaves together! And the writing in this one is absolutely gorgeous, really making me feel for Angelina and experience everything she does. This is a heartfelt and emotional look back at history, so I highly recommend the trip back to 1906 in The Weight of Salt!

  18. 5 out of 5

    KATIE

    I absolutely loved this book. Sandra had me both laughing and crying by the end of the first heartbreaking chapter, and then cheering on her characters' courage and determination as the story continues. She is a gifted storyteller whose characters are vibrant and full of life: some are vengeful and begrudging, some are wise and giving, and some are downright hilarious and almost overly optimistic. The common thread that binds them all is a pioneering spirit and a determination to succeed despite I absolutely loved this book. Sandra had me both laughing and crying by the end of the first heartbreaking chapter, and then cheering on her characters' courage and determination as the story continues. She is a gifted storyteller whose characters are vibrant and full of life: some are vengeful and begrudging, some are wise and giving, and some are downright hilarious and almost overly optimistic. The common thread that binds them all is a pioneering spirit and a determination to succeed despite their sometimes terrible and unfair conditions. Angelina's story of courage and passion resonates with today's readers in her courageous refusal to accept the hand dealt her. She is a young woman who is determined to honor her heritage while still paving her own path to freedom. Perhaps she didn't cross the Atlantic like her immigrant parents did, but her desire to write her own story echoes the desires that brought her parents and so many others to America in the first place. I look forward anxiously to the continuation of Angelina's story in book two!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Edwards

    WOW. What a stunning debut by Sandra Montanino, at a time when we need an inspiring story about an immigrant woman most, she reads the room and presents this wonderful novel. It has heartbreak, forbidden love, family turmoils, all themes everyone can relate to. I love historical fiction and this book definitely has it in spades, the main events of the books and dates are facts and the stories were told to Sandra's by her grandmother. I was particularly inspired by the character Uncle Pasquale wh WOW. What a stunning debut by Sandra Montanino, at a time when we need an inspiring story about an immigrant woman most, she reads the room and presents this wonderful novel. It has heartbreak, forbidden love, family turmoils, all themes everyone can relate to. I love historical fiction and this book definitely has it in spades, the main events of the books and dates are facts and the stories were told to Sandra's by her grandmother. I was particularly inspired by the character Uncle Pasquale who had a difficult start to life, but continues to joke and be happy. There are multiple quotes throughout the book that I felt could pertain to my life today. I really identified with Angelina's struggle to find her way through life as a woman and was always encouraged that she persevered and continued to push boundaries during this time period.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    I found the book The Weight of Salt very interesting about the Italian culture. I like the character Angelina. She was a genuine & loving character thrown into a traumatic life changing situation. I rooted for her throughout the book wanting her to find love & happiness with a man she deserves. I really like the cover. The book is exciting, dramatic and sometimes hilarious. When I started reading this book I couldn't put it down. Loved the gentleness of Uncle Pascquale and the silliness of Signora I found the book The Weight of Salt very interesting about the Italian culture. I like the character Angelina. She was a genuine & loving character thrown into a traumatic life changing situation. I rooted for her throughout the book wanting her to find love & happiness with a man she deserves. I really like the cover. The book is exciting, dramatic and sometimes hilarious. When I started reading this book I couldn't put it down. Loved the gentleness of Uncle Pascquale and the silliness of Signora Bertelli.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Great storyline and read

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Verly

  23. 5 out of 5

    HUGH T MCCRACKEN

  24. 5 out of 5

    Miriam Rohrbaugh

  25. 4 out of 5

    Dave Barry

  26. 5 out of 5

    chris wiegand

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cyndi

  28. 5 out of 5

    anne riley

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jolie McClure

  30. 4 out of 5

    Shirley Nelson

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