Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

No Series


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.

“I became good at pretending. I became so good that after a while the lines blurred between my truth and fiction. And sometimes, when I did a really good job of pretending, I even fooled myself.”

The beautiful cover enshrouds a haunting story. One of loss, one of pain, and one of growth. The end is a bit abrupt but the point is the journey. And of course the cover is eye candy.

Relating a horrible time in history, the author doesn’t shy away from showing death, desperation and the horror these people faced – especially when they are risking life, limb and their children to try and board the boat since it was their last chance. Told through the point of view of several characters, we have the revelation of different personalities and different motivations, but all show a united struggled outside of Alfred who is just demented.

I would have preferred to see more time actually spent on the boat - I expected more struggles amongst each other at sea and for that area to be more developed - instead we mainly travel with the group through the lands until they come to their fated voyage.

The story flies by due to the easily absorbed writing style, abbreviated chapters and simple characters. I know a lot of friends hold this in higher regard than my three-star label, but while I enjoy the story, I'm also dishing the three star because I found the characters a little simple in relation to what they could have been, and I feel the author could have added more spark and life to the story if she didn't want to skip around to so many heads to show too much perspective. The risk of not settling down with a character for long means a reader can grow distant instead of fonder of the paper person. Also, the “good” characters kind of blended together to me.

Still, a good book worth reading. It’s a well-written maritime tragedy – my enjoyment level is a little lower just because the writing format wasn’t fully to my tastes. The poetic prose itself was both haunting and refreshing.

   Book Quotes:

“I wept because i had no shoes, until i met a man who had no feet.”


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