by Ruta Sepetys
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Publication Date: February 2nd 2016
Publisher: Philomel Books
Genre: Young Adult | Historical Fiction
Source: First to Read
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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. (Goodreads)
I couldn't wait to get started on Salt to the Sea, as I had heard so many great things about its author, Ruta Sepetys, and I was super curious to finally read something by her. I have to say, I was completely blown away by this book, I can't even begin to describe how I feel about it. It was very much an enlightening read, but also one that was also completely terrifying as well, and it left me wanting to know more about the historical events that really happened in the story.
I seriously had no clue what to expect from this book when going into it. All I really knew was that it took place during World War II. While the novel is completely fictional, it does revolve around a tragic event that really took place during the war. (I'm not going to tell you what event, I'd prefer you read the story and find out for yourself.) I keep wondering how I'd never before heard of this massive disaster, one of the largest in maritime history, and I am so glad that someone wrote a story around it, because now I know, and it left me wanting to learn even more.
The story is told from multiple characters points of view, and while each of the characters come from different backgrounds, we see how the same events affected each one of them differently, yet the same still. I loved that despite the horror, relationships were formed, some with a bond so strong it was heartbreaking. These characters made me laugh, and they made me ugly cry, and I just loved them all so much.
At 400 pages, I didn't expect to finish the book as quickly as I did, but the chapters are short, and highly addictive, and I flew through the pages in no time. Also, unlike a lot of historical books I've read in the past, this one didn't feel like I was reading a history book, loaded with facts I would attempt to remember. The facts are there, but they are written into the story in such a way that they feel like they just belong there, not like they are actual facts someone is telling us about.
Overall; Salt to the Sea completely blew me away. There was so much beauty in the story even though the events were completely horrific and terrifying. I loved the characters who found a special place in my heart. I really just don't know how to put into words how much I 'feel' for this book. It's so much, and I could go on and on. I hope that you'll read it yourself so that you can understand what I mean. Add it to your to-be-read stack today, and pick up a copy as soon as you can. I hope you love it just as much as I did.