Josie Henderson is a rarity in that she is a black woman in a field dominated by white men. She is an oceanographer with a specialty in marine mammal research. She is married to a white man, Daniel, and lives in a white neighborhood in Wood's Hole, Massachusetts. As she deals with the pressure of her work and her husband's desire to have a baby that she doesn't want, she is drawn back into the dysfunction of her family. Growing up in Cleveland, Josie's father was an alcoholic who had started out life with aspirations of becoming an author. Josie's mother was a tough but loving nurse, who kicked her husband out of the house once his drinking had gotten beyond control. Josie's brother, Tick, had a promising start. He and Josie had gone to private school and worked hard. While Josie studied science, Tick got work as a trainer for the Cleveland Cavalier's. He jeopardizes his job with his drug problems and relies on Josie to save him.
Written in a clear and frank style, The Taste of Salt is an honest family story of identity and pain. Josie's dissatisfaction with her marriage and ambivalence about motherhood are well-defined and relatable elements. This book was well worth reading for the look into the heart and mind of an African-American woman who is trying to reconcile her heritage and her ambition.