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 hope you all had a great weekend (full of reading)! I spent my weekend reading books, one of them being Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys.
Before reading the book, I hoped that it would be as beautiful as every book Ruta has written before. It was.
The story takes place during WWII in the winter of 1945. Four characters, each from a different homeland, take a journey to board the Wilhelm Gustloff. Germany is losing the war; the only way for many people to live is to flee during Soviet advancement through the Wilhelm Gustloff. Joana, Florian, Emilia, and Alfred all believe that the Wilhelm Gustloff is their only way to safety; what they don’t know is the ship could be their death.
Much of humanity is familiar with the stories behind the Titanic and the Lucitania. Not many know the story behind the Wilhelm Gustloff: a ship that departed in 1945 with more than 9,000 passengers, where the boat’s capacity was 1,500. When the boat was torpedoed during its journey, the number of people outnumbered the capacity of lifeboats. The majority of the boats’ passengers sank with it. Ruta Sepetys sheds light on the hidden history behind the Wilhelm Gustloff in Salt to the Sea.
Now I get to tell you all how much I loved this book!
Joana, Florian, and Emilia were all characters I fell in love with. Joana’s selflessness, Florian’s caring nature, and my heart broke for Emilia with every word she spoke. I cannot say the same for Alfred. Alfred is a Nazi soldier. Alfred may be one of the most egotistical yet clueless characters I have ever experienced reading. I loved the contrast that Ruta created between Joana/Florian/Emilia vs. Alfred.
I also enjoyed seeing so many sides of the war. Every character comes from a different place, and have a different stance on the war. It was amazing to see how people from different sides of such a big world issue can stick together and come to love one another.
For those of you who have read Between Shades of Gray, one of the main characters in Salt to the Sea is Lina’s cousin, Joana. I loved listening to Joana after I have heard so much of her through Lina, and I also enjoyed reading about Lina through Joana.
I love historical fiction. If I had a list of my top ten favorite historical fiction books, this one would be on it. When I read books, I always look for something I have learned. I never have a hard time thinking of what I have gained from reading Ruta’s books. She creates vivid characters, within a beautiful story, during a real-life occurrence. She has outdone herself again with Salt to the Sea.
The ending is wonderful. That is all I am going to say.
I have no negative remarks. Let me know if you have one, because I could spend days trying to find one complaint.
If you have not read Salt to the Sea, add it to your “MUST READ” list.
Thanks for listening (I would love some recommendations!!),