Publication Date: February 2, 2016
Publisher: Philomel Books
Source: ALA Midwinter
Age Group: Teens
Genre: Historical Fiction
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.
If there is one thing that one must know about me when it came to school, I HATED history. Yes I do know that is a strong word to use but it is so true. I just never found it interesting, I was a B-average students and I was never motivated to learn more. However, if Ruta Sepetys was my teacher there is no doubt that history could have been one of my favorite subjects.
I first discovered Ruta's brilliant writing in her debut novel Between Shades of Gray. From that moment, I was hooked and eager to read more. Salt to the Sea is set at the end of World War 2. We are introduced to four strangers all with a different past and all with one goal, board the Gustloff.
Ruta's chapters style reminded me instantly of James Pattersons' and I instantly fell in love. I am always having the issue of wanting to finish a chapter before stopping but it never fails that the chapters are never-ending. But what really added to this love was the multiple perspectives. I felt myself wanting to go back to the one character after every chapter. And overall it gave the reader just enough of a taste of what was going on through the characters head to want to know more.
Florian and Emilia had to be my favorite characters. Florian is brave, clever, and so strong. But I think what really held me to him was that under everything there was this vulnerability that started to show more and more with every chapter. With Emilia, I think the heart-break that came with her got to me and I know that there were moments where I had to pause and think about not just her character but what people like her experienced during this time period.
Overall, Ruta did a brilliant job in taking a dark piece of history that isn't really talked much about in classrooms and wrote a masterpiece. Her other works may be historical but this one steals the cake and although told through a fiction lens, it is one that must be read. Sepetys is an author that should be on everyone's list of must-read authors. She delivers without disappointment.
I give this book 5 souls!