Started: May 12, 2016
Finished: May 19, 2016
Rating: 5 stars
Summary: 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.
Well, I want to cry.
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys was phenomenal. I read Between Shades of Grey a couple of years ago when Ruta Sepetys came and visited my high school, and I loved that novel. This one I enjoyed a little bit less than that one, but I still thought it was a fantastic novel.
It was raw, it was emotional, and it was beautifully written. I personally had never heard of the Wilhelm Gustloff tragedy, and I was curious to see what it was. I didn’t do any research before I started this book, and I believe that contributed to my reading experience because I had no idea what to expect. I knew that it was a shipwreck (got that from reading the summary), but I didn’t know anything else. If you’re going to read this book, I recommend going in blind, and researching afterwards.
The story was amazing. I’ve read multiple novels about the sinking of the Titanic (I was obsessed when I was little), and I have never read a better telling of a shipwreck than I read in this book. It had me on the edge of my seat, constantly wondering what was happening and what was going to happen next. Part of that could have been due to the fact that I didn’t know anything about it, but I still believe it was based in Ruta Sepetys’ brilliant writing.
A significant portion of the brilliant writing was dedicated to the characters.
Joana, Florian, Emilia, and Alfred were all interesting characters. There some that I loved immediately (Emilia) and others that I simply detested (Alfred). But disregarding how I felt about them, let me just talk about their characterization and how they were written. Each one of these major characters were given lives that came to life when I read them. I felt like I knew all of them personally, and that is such a huge sign of brilliant characterization and brilliant writing that I was amazed.
The minor characters were almost as heartwrenching as the major ones. If I had had just a little bit more information about them, then they would have been equally as heartbreaking. Heinz, Klaus, and Ingrid were the ones that affected me the most out of the minor characters (of which there were few), and I ended up wanting to learn more about them. They were well-written, but written in a way that I couldn’t forget that they were minor characters, despite how much I wanted them to be major at times.
Overall, I loved this book. It was a great historical fiction novel, and I think it may have turned Ruta Sepetys into one of my auto-buy authors (I just want to read everything this woman ever writes). I still think I liked Between Shades of Grey a little bit more, but this one is definitely up there on my list of favorite historical fiction novels.
And now I’m off into the world of dystopia! See you next time!
NEXT READ: Legend by Marie Lu