by Ruta Sepetys
Published by Philomel Books Release date : February 2nd, 2016
Genres: Historical, Young Adult
Source: Library | Format: Hardcover
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Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.
Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.
As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.
Yet not all promises can be kept.
Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope.
I first came across Salt to the Sea while at the SE-YA festival in March. Ms. Sepetys was there, and while I didn’t get a chance to meet her, or buy one of her books, there were a lot of people standing around talking about them. There were many other times this book kept popping up everywhere but when it was picked as the Book of the Month for May for a book club I’m in, it was A SIGN.
I wish I would have read it sooner!
I’m not one to often suffer such great emotional turmoil from a book, however. This book left me hollowed out. Gutted. Utterly breathless. I’m still sitting here feeling… I don’t know what I’m feeling, but when I think about this book, weeks after finishing, I still get teary eyed.
What saddens me the most, was how much I did NOT know about this maritime tragedy and how many others I’ve asked don’t know about it, too. It’s HUGE. I’m struggling to understand the sheer lack of knowledge on it. Of course, after finishing I took to the good ol World Wide Web and did find quite a bit of information, but nothing in the amount of research that Ms. Sepetys did for the book. It wasn’t just the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, there were many historical moments mentioned that happened during the war and this time period. These things are so hard for me to read, but it was Ms. Sepetys writing that made it worthwhile. I mean, I knew how things were going to go. There’s this dark cloud hanging over you while reading that is an omen for bad things to come. But within all that is hope too, and love.
We get the story told from 4 different characters view. Each character has their own story. Their own journey. Their own secrets. It was fascinating how each story slowly wove itself together until the end. You wouldn’t think with so many different POV and short chapters I would have had such a connection to their story, but I did. We don’t learn everything there is to know about each character. Rather, there is much left out. But that didn’t stop me from being wholly invested and devastated by the outcome(s) of some of the characters.
All in all – I loved it! It’s emotionally wrecking but well worth it. Seriously, READ THIS BOOK. It’s my favorite book read this month (May) and one of my favorite books read of all time.
Tell me your thoughts
- Have you read SALT TO THE SEA? If so, what did you think? If not, does it sound like something you’d enjoy?
- Are there other books set during WWII that you recommend?
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