Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Published February 2nd 2016 by Philomel Books
Genre: Young Adult 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.
Wow, just wow. This is my first Ruta Sepetys book and it sure as hell will not be my last. It’s cool to read another historical fiction book on WWII involving Germans other than The Book Thief (which made me cry so much omg). I warned myself to not get attached to any character considering the setting, but it was just so hard! This is just amazing, beautifully written and so heartbreaking. It just shows the horrors everyone went through during this time, especially when innocent people were caught in the middle of a war.
I loved the writing style here. We switch between four different POVs. It was confusing and overwhelming at first, cause omg four POVS. You do get the hang of it though, and it’s pretty easy to read since the chapters are so short. I also love the gripping opening lines of each POV at the start:
Fate is a hunter.
Guilt is a hunter.
Shame is a hunter.
Feat is a hunter.
As we read through different POVs, we are given a look at how much depth and how dynamic the characters are. I do enjoy reading Alfred’s POV for some reason, with all his letters to Hannelore and I was shook when I found out the plot twist with that.
I really cared for Joana. This Lithuanian nurse who repatriated to Germany is such a strong, amazing character.
Florian was very mysterious and guarded. He had a lot of secrets. He’s a restoration artist who was deceived by his mentor. He in turn decided to take revenge.
Of all the characters. the darkest was Emilia. She seemed childish and naive, calling Florian her “Knight” but omg as her backstory unravels, I was just feeling so much for her.
The side characters were all just too precious as well: Eva, Ingrid, Klaus, The Shoe Poet.
“What a group we were. A pregnant girl in love, a kindly shoemaker, an orphan boy, a blind girl, and a giantess who complained that everyone was in her way when she herself took up the most room. And me, a lonely girl who missed her family and begged for a second chance”
Overall it’s a beautiful amazing book and I’m so glad we decided to choose this for our readathon. Definitely recommend this to everyone who likes historical fiction, or if you just like to get your heart broken and cry over fictional characters.