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Taste Of Salt Hardcover – September 1, 1992

4.3 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Hardcover, September 1, 1992
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This arresting first novel presents a powerful fictional portrait of the poverty and oppression in contemporary Haiti. Seventeen-year-old Djo, one of Jean-Bertrand Aristide's bodyguards, has been badly beaten by the macoutes , violent members of Duvalier's private army. While Djo is recovering in the hospital, Fr. Aristide convinces him to dictate his life story to a girl scribe named Jeremie. Djo reveals the key events of his childhood in brutally vivid detail: he left home early because his mother had too many mouths to feed; he taught reading to younger boys at Aristide's shelter; he was kidnapped and sold into slavery as a sugar cane worker. In the person of Djo, Temple has successfully created a martyr for the people. His narrative contains a smattering of social and political insights as well as excerpts from Aristide's motivational writings and speeches. Djo's and Jeremie's dialect is never cumbersome for the reader--a glossary appears at the end of the book--and lends authenticity to their accounts. Djo's extraordinary experiences and circumstances shed harsh light on a people in crisis. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up-- Haiti is the setting for this novel of two young people whose growth toward matu rity mirrors the same process taking place in their volatile country. Based on real incidents and people, it is the fascinating story of fiction al Djo, one of Aristide's boys, street urchins whom the priest gathered together to give an opportunity for a different life and a chance at an education. Jeremie is a young woman edu cated at a convent school, the only way out of the slums into which she was born. They meet at Djo's hospital bedside where he is near death from a beating at the hands of the Tonton Ma coute, the deposed Duvalier's private army of thugs; she is responsible for getting Djo's story on tape. While he is in a coma, she writes her own story. Both of their accounts are full of the grim realities of life in modern Haiti, complete with the sense of hopefulness and helplessness that must fill a country in which politics are a deadly game. Dialect is used throughout, but it is readable, lyrical, and adds authenticity to the narrative. Factual material is integrated ex tremely well; no background knowledge is needed to become caught up in the drama of the many in this embattled land as related through the eyes of two compelling characters. An excellent first effort. --Kathryn Havris, Mesa Pub . Lib . , AZ
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic; First edition (September 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0531054594
  • ISBN-13: 978-0531054598
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,999,056 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

A Kid's Review on January 10, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Taste of Salt, written by Frances Temple, is a provocative, exciting tale of the life of a young Haitian man, Djo, and the struggle against a dictatorship that hired Macoutes, thugs, to keep itself in power. Djo grew up on the streets with his brother before Father Aristide, known to them as Titid, adopted them. Djo was injured by Macoutes who firebombed him. Now he lies in a hospital bed telling his story to a student of a nun school named Jeremie. She listens.
There are several reasons to read this book, but the two greatest are its complex setting and the intricate writing style. The setting is elaborate as the book takes place in 1991in the city of Port-Au-Prince, when people were trying to attain a democracy and end the dictatorship of Jean-Claude Duvalier who named himself president for life and hired Macoutes. The writing style is unique as it has many flashbacks and the story is half from Djo's view and half from Jeremie's view. The flashbacks are interesting as they tell how the characters came to their current state and telling what they did until then. Also the different characters views have are written slightly different with slightly different writing styles that reflect the different characters speech styles.
This book is quite good but some may find fault with the fact that it uses some Creole words that can be quite confusing and force you to look back to the glossary disrupting. Though at first it may appear a negative fact, by the end it becomes interesting and you feel you have learned a little of their culture. However, even if one finds the Creole to be disrupting they will still enjoy the overall quality of this book.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
And, Temple tells it wonderfully! She writes english with the Creole (Kreyol) feel of putting words together, and the research was dead on. I have stood outside of the burned out St. John Bosco, I have walked and worked in Cité Soleil. This book made me cry, and oh so "homesick" for a country that I only met 4 years ago!
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By A Customer on June 30, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I recently read this book in order to find fresh literature to present in the classroom. I can't wait to read this with my 7th-grade English students. Because of its structure, Taste of Salt lends itself to many creative teaching strategies. The values and themes are very relevant to our students today. Read it and you will see!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I'm reading this book because it is on The Battle of the Books list in Scottsdale AZ. Students read books and answer questions in a "Jeopardy" type contest, and I always read along with my grandchildren. I am very happy that this book is on the list for 7-8 graders. A Taste of Salt refers to the key to releasing zombies, and in this book reading is the taste of salt for the lost boys of Port-au-Prince, as they are rescued by Father Aristede. Djo, a leader of the boys, lays dying in the hospital as his story is recorded by Jeremie, a convent-raised young woman sent by Aristede. Djo was kidnapped by government troops to work in the sugar cane fields of the Dominican Republic (I'll always think of Djo and the cane cutters when I buy sugar) and his years there are terrible. I looked on Human Rights Watch website and found that there are 500,000 Haitians still working in the cane fields in deplorable conditions. "Father" Titid is now married, president of Haiti, and perpetuating the same dreadful oppression upon the people which he formerly preached against. A revolution gone wrong, as they often do, but an important and touching story of the strength of young people.
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Format: Hardcover
While on a business trip I read this book aloud to my husband as he drove. We took the book into the hotel with us and I read aloud until we finished the book. It is the telling of a very cruel and long chapter in the history of Haiti through the strong voices of Djo and Jeremie. It is a story of an overwhelming struggle against unbelieveably evil odds; of youth and raw courage; of love for family and friends, and of the force these weld that eventually wrenches the government from it's vicious grip on its citizens. It definitely earned a five star rating from us.
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A Kid's Review on April 2, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Taste of Salt, by Frances Temple is the best book I have read yet. This book teaches you how life is special. The book has emotion, love, happiness, loneliness, and a lot more real feelings people have. The best part is the writer is very graphic in her writing, you almost feel like you were there. The whole book is interesting, you never get tired of reading it. I think Taste of Salt can touch many people in different ways.
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A Kid's Review on December 1, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
What would you do if you were barely alive because of a political firebombing, and the only thing you could do is talk? For Djo, a 14-year-old Haitian boy, the only thing he can do is lie in bed and tell his life story to a tape recorder. One day a beautiful girl named Jeremie, a Catholic schoolgirl, walks in. Neither of them knows how much one other will change their lives.
This work of historical fiction shows the struggle between society and the government in Haiti. When the government doesn't give the people what they say they will give, some people rebel. Taste of Salt is a great book filled with danger, sadness and friendship.
Even though I had to read this book for school, I still had a hard time putting it down. I love the fast-paced and descriptive writing of Frances Temple. It really seemed as if she were there telling the story through the character's eyes. I strongly recommend Taste of Salt by Frances Temple. Adults, kids and everyone between will enjoy this book; it really shows how much one person can affect another's life.
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