by Ruta Sepetys
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Penguin Teen (February 2, 2016)
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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.
Dear Salt to the Sea,
You're the first Ruta Sepetys book that I've ever read, which I'm kind of kicking myself for, because you were just the type of historical fiction that I enjoy reading. The type that's comparable to Elizabeth Wien. I even have Between Shades of Gray on my bookshelf, and I haven't read it, but that's changing soon after reading you. That book is now a top priority of mine, especially because Sepetys proves through each and every chapter of you, Salt to the Sea, that she is the author to be on the lookout for in the future. Where the heck have I been the past few years and why haven't I read a Ruta Septeys book until now?!
You follow the story of basically the Titanic that nobody heard about. Until I read the synopsis of you, I had absolutely no idea what the Wilhelm Gustloff was, let alone that it was a ship that killed thousands upon thousands of people hoping for freedom, merely trying to escape the monstrosities of World War II. Mainly you focus on four characters, Joana (a nurse), Emilia (a pregnant girl from another country), Florian (a fleeing boy with lottttttts of secrets), and a sailor on the Wilhelm Gustloff, (who is kinda sorta coo-coo, if you know what I mean). Plus, the minor characters? OMG. I absolutely adored the shoe-maker and his little boy that he took care of. They melted my heart! I totally ship Joana and Florian! Adorbs.
Throughout each chapter, more and more is revealed about our main characters and their pasts, what ultimately caused them to flee, and it is absolutely heartbreaking. The way Sepetys weaves tiny hints into her descriptive and fluid writing was phenomenal, and she definitely made me care for so many of these characters, as if they were real people. It breaks my heart even more to know that this happened in real life. This tragedy was once unbeknown to me, and maybe a lot of people (or just me, the girl who didn't pay attention in history), but because I picked you up, Salt to the Sea, and because Ruta wrote about it, now I have at least a little bit of an idea about the Wilhelm Gustloff and what each of it's passengers was desperately hoping for....survival.
Despite a lot of heartbreak, trials, and definitely tribulations, you, Salt to the Sea, are full of heart-warming friendship, trust, courage, perseverance, and perhaps a little bit of a blooming relationship, and all of those things combined with the beautifully written prose, I have to say that you blew me away, Salt to the Sea. You are a revelation, and I think you deserve to be read by anyone who is interested in learning a little bit of our world's history. Four pieces to you, Salt to the Sea.
Honestly How Have I Waited So Long To Read a Sepetys Book,
P.S. Did you know that no matter how many times you try to spell SEPETYS correctly, you will still get it wrong? (Okay, maybe not every single time, because I just did it on the first try, but I struggled through this whole letter. Fun Fact.