Salt to the Sea is a heartbreakingly beautiful book that brings awareness to one of the worst maritime disasters to have ever happened. Have a box of Kleenex on hand!
The author of Between Shades of Gray returns to WWII in this epic novel that shines a light on one of the war’s most devastating—yet unknown—tragedies.
In 1945, World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them 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 toward safety.
Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Genre: Historical Fiction/YA Lit/WWII
I was very lucky to be approved by Netgalley and Penguin Teen to read Salt to the Sea! I’ve only read Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys, and I loved it! She does a fantastic job of bringing unknown tragedies to life and to readers awareness. I had been seeing this book floating around for a while, and since I love Sepetys’s writing, and WWII is a part of history that I read a lot about, I had to request this book! I had to. And I am so glad I did because it was amazing!
This book focuses on refugees from Poland and Lithuania towards the end of the war, trying to make it to the Baltic to escape the invading Russian forces. Along the way we meet Emilia, a young fifteen year old Polish girl, who is saved by a German boy, Florian. They then meet another group of refugees, and in that group is Joana, another of the main narrators of the story. They all end up together, through various trials, on the Wilhelm Gustloff, which is supposed to be the salvation of refugees from the Russians.
Sepetys does a wonderful job of portraying her characters; Florian ends up being this knight for the girls, even though at times you are not quite sure if you can trust him–I love him. Another character that she does a wonderful job portraying was Alfred Frick. I did not like him. at. all. He was a creepy, distrustful person. He was slimy almost.
It is never easy to read about what people experienced during war time, all the horrors that they went through, but I also feel it’s important to know, and Sepetys does a wonderful job of portraying that. If you do nothing else, get this book and read it. Read about this maritime disaster that until this book, I had never heard of.
My Rating: 5/5 stars
“The books, raped and rummaged of their dignity, lay in heaps on the floor.”
“What had human beings become? Did war make us evil or just activate an evil already lurking within us?”
“The ship was born of death.”
“Joana Vilkas, your daughter, your sister. She is salt to the sea.”
“The sinking of the Gustloff is the largest maritime disaster, yet the world still knows nothing of it.”
“War is catastrophe. It breaks families in irretrievable pieces. But those who are gone are not necessarily lost.”