Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Title: Salt to the Sea

Author: Ruta Sepetys

Publisher: Philomel Books

Series Status: Stand Alone

Page Count: 393

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis: 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.

Review: If you have read my book reviews before, you will know that I am a big fan of historical fiction, and Ruta Sepetys never disappoints. I read her previous book, Between Shades of Grey, and was amazed with her story-telling and recounting of history. Salt to the Sea brings just as much awe.

The characters from this story, I found to be very well written. Each of them were hiding mysterious secrets that were hinted to, but never quite clarified until the end. I absolutely loved reading from Joanna and Florian’s point of view. Their tale is just so interesting to follow. Emilia’s point of view was the most mysterious and intriguing. A pregnant 15 year old Polish girl in 1945, seeking refuge among Germans? That is enough to raise questions and curiosity, and then her strange obsession with Florian spiced things up.

I’m just going to put it out there, I hated Alfred. He was creepy and seemed like an absolute sociopath. From the rash on his hands to the weird letters he wrote in his mind to his sweetheart back home, everything just screamed wrong. I appreciate the addition of his character, as it provided some clarity and understanding as to what was going on in different places with the war, but he was just plain creepy and weird.

This book was so educational. As the author mentioned in the acknowledgements, most people had never heard of the Wilhelm Gustloff, and I was one of them. It remains to be the single greatest maritime tragedy in the world, and this novel for teenagers was the first I had ever heard about it. Everyone knows about World War II and the Holocaust, and the reign of Hitler, but not enough people have learned about Stalin and his reign of terror. I had never heard of Lithuania before her other book, and I have learned so much about history from her novels, and I appreciate that. I one day hope to carry on a similar tradition, as historical fiction is my absolute favourite genre, and one that is harder to come by, but is just as important.

Overall, this was a great book that I immensely enjoyed.

I give this book 4.5/5 stars and would highly recommend it to fans of historical fiction, or anyone.

For more reviews from readers of Salt to the Sea, click here.

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