Published: February 2nd, 2016
by: Philomel Books
Genres: YA, Historical-Fiction, World War II
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
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.
Salt to the Sea is a beautifully written story about one of the worst times in history. Four teens, one goal – freedom. And, as you may know (or not), American History books are filled with holes and untruths. I like delving deeper into history, to get a better sense of things. Sepetys really did a great job of researching World War II history. She took another approach, however, and this time it’s all about Lithuanian refugees. No matter the fictional accounts, this is a gripping historical tale that will leave you wanting more.
When I first started this, I was put off by the short chapters and four POVs. Then, as I started to get deeper, I felt better about how the author wrote this. Words and phrases all blended into one another, which made it a very pleasant read. I found all stories hard to read, simply because of the nature of their pasts. But then, it’s good to read such accounts, to shed some light on what many may not know of – me included. The Wilhelm Gustloff needs to be remembered. Such a tragic moment in history that has been looked over. This story will make you tear up.
Of all the characters, I think I liked Emilia more. There was just something about her situation that grasped me more than the others. Don’t get me wrong, Florian, Joana, Alfred, and all the refugees had their own heartbreaking and mysterious stories. Emilia stood out to me. And if you’ve read this then you can pretty much guess why. These people trekked for miles and sought shelter whenever and wherever they could, just to get to the Gustloff. How it ends……well, I wasn’t as surprised? as I’d thought going into this. It may make you cry, but I found this to be a great – albeit, sad – fictional account to a part of World War II history that doesn’t get told often.
I highly recommend reading this book. The characters are very much fictional, but the history isn’t. If you enjoy World War II stories, or any war stories, this one will surely become a favorite.