Title: Salt to the Sea
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Genre & Age Group: Historical fiction, young adult
World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, many with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the “Wilhelm Gustloff.” Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer to safety. Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people adults and children alike aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.
Source: Thanks so much for buying me this book from Indigo, dad! I love you!💞
How I Found Out About It: Goodreads/Blogging
We all know that war is undeniably atrocious. It is a sight that none want to see, but it still remains inevitable. The Holocaust in particular was especially horrible, affecting millions of people in both Europe and all over the world. The amazing Salt to the Sea tells the poignant story of one of the lesser known tragedies of World War II, the sinking of the “Wilhelm Gustloff” ship. It is an extremely valuable story that needs to get into the hands of so many readers so they can be informed of the effects war has on people and what war victims have had to go through.
For a more specific recap of the plot, Salt to the Sea follows the perspectives of four very different characters- Joana, Alfred, Emilia, and Florian. As World War II gets closer and closer to its end, the four cross paths while boarding the Wilhelm Gustloff. Despite their differences and goals for after the war ends, they experience an incredible, supportive bond. All of a sudden, they are faced with a huge tragedy, and they must rely on each other for support and survival more now than ever before.
As proven by Between Shades of Gray and now this novel, Ruta Sepetys has a true gift for creating strong characters. If you enjoy having multiple POVs in your books, then you will love reading from the alternating perspectives of the four main characters of this story. To dig a bit deeper on what they were like, we have Joana, who is a super sweet nurse, Alfred, who is not a very likeable character as he supports the doings of Hitler, Emilia, who is pregnant without anyone to turn to, and Florian, a self-proclaimed murderer with a troubled past. Yes, as you may be able to tell, they are all extremely different from each other. This was great because they were able to form an alliance in spite of their clashing personalities. Their ultimate goals may have been different, but one was definitely the same- survival. This book is proof that even though you may be very different from someone, there is always still common ground to find between the two of you.
In light of the four perspectives, the chapters were quick and went straight to the point, and for the most part, they flowed very well. One thing I must admit, however, is that I did sometimes feel confused or bored about what was happening during some parts of the book. I think the robust character development definitely made up for this, though.
To sum it all up, Salt to the Sea is an incredible novel that deserves to be devoured. The characters were all amazingly crafted and although the story dragged on at times, the morals it gives are priceless. Whether historical fiction interests you or not, I would still definitely recommend this book for you to get an insight on World War II and the effects it had on millions.