Summary: 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.
Genres: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
My thoughts: I had the privilege of reading this novel before it’s publication date, and I can truly say that it has become one of my most loved stories, ever. Salt to the Sea is a gripping and important novel that shows readers one of the biggest tragedies of WWII that was forgotten and not spoken of over time. It follows four different teens with vastly different pasts as they converge together to escape the brutality of the Russians threatening German territory. This story is incredibly moving, heartbreaking, and so vital to teach readers about the horror that innocent civilians had to go through during the worst war the world has ever witnessed.
There isn’t a single section of this book that I did not completely immerse myself in and fall in love with. I was infatuated by the grim setting that Ruta Sepetys created, showing the hardships that the characters had to go through in order to survive. I adored the action and suspense that made me invested in this story that was so well researched and written in a way that wasn’t complicated at all. But what got me the most were the characters. Each characters’ past was slowly revealed over time and offered the reader a glimpse into the struggle they had to go through to get to the moment they all meet in the novel. I loved how each character was so different from the other, providing a wide range of personalities that I got attached to. The only character that I hated was Alfred, who was so full of hate and was so pompous, but, all in all, even he was vital to the progression of the thick plot line. He provided another side to the story which explained intricate details of the Wilhelm Gustloff that helped the reader understand more about the ship which was pivotal to the plot of the book.
This is such an important novel to read. It shines a light on such a horrible and gigantic tragedy by telling it through the eyes of teens who have to go through so much to survive. There were also incredibly difficult topics discussed and represented in this novel and I really appreciated how they were portrayed. I could not get enough of this fast paced story that really gripped my heart and made me cry for the hardships the characters went through. I became attached to each person in this breath-taking story, and I will forever remember this book whenever I think of my favorite stories I have ever read.
I highly recommend this book to every reader, even if you hardly ever read historical fiction. This quick read has something for every reader and will educate you on a forgotten disaster that must be remembered no matter what.