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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.

44 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. 5 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. 4 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. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. 5 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.

  11. 5 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.

  12. 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!

  13. 5 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!

  14. 4 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.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Great storyline and read

  16. 4 out of 5

    Miriam Rohrbaugh

  17. 5 out of 5

    Cyndi

  18. 5 out of 5

    anne riley

  19. 4 out of 5

    Leire Rogel

  20. 5 out of 5

    Madge A.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Christina Edwards

  22. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia (Bingeing On Books)

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany

  24. 5 out of 5

    Raygan

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lara

  26. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Bendoski

  27. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

  28. 4 out of 5

    Clare

  29. 5 out of 5

    Debora De

  30. 5 out of 5

    Curt Locklear

  31. 4 out of 5

    Keegan

  32. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Eridani

  33. 5 out of 5

    Erin

  34. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Bianchi

  35. 4 out of 5

    Micielle

  36. 5 out of 5

    Lynn Demsky

  37. 5 out of 5

    Kim Ellis

  38. 5 out of 5

    Carissa Stubbert

  39. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

  40. 5 out of 5

    Gabby

  41. 4 out of 5

    Raina

  42. 4 out of 5

    Angela DeSilva

  43. 5 out of 5

    Astrid Galactic

  44. 4 out of 5

    E. R.

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