Salt to the Sea By Ruta Sepetys
Just because someone knocks on the door, doesn’t mean you have to open it.
Sometimes there are wolves at the door.
Just as WWII is coming to a close, thousands of East Prussians are taking only the clothes on their backs and seeking refuge by way of the Wilhelm Gustloff. En route to the ship that promises freedom, the lives of Joana, Emilia, and Florian converge over a common goal. These three find comfort in each other as they risk exposure to the Germans as they travel by night, overcoming wounds, death, and loneliness. What they don’t know is the tragedy that inevitably awaits them at the Gustloff.
As someone who would like to think they know a lot about the second world war, I was shocked that I had never once learned of the largest maritime disaster in history, nor how the war affected those under Soviet reign. What was most compelling about Salt to the Sea, was the alternating points of view. With each character coming from a unique background and bringing with them unique circumstances, it was interesting to see who they were able to come together and learn to trust one another when they had no one else. I found Joana to be the most reliable narrator and most relatable because of her closeness to my actual age. I found myself constantly thinking of what I would have done had I been in Joana’s place, and hoping I would have been as brave as she was for everyone around her. Although the story is focused on the trials of the war, there is a small romance that give the narrative a little more life, but it not so much that the romance overtakes the storyline.
The ways in which Ruta Sepetys tells the stories of WWII make me want to dive head-first into historical fiction. She is effortlessly able to make the characters relatable without losing the gravity of the situation they are in, an rare talent.
You can purchase the book here.
5 STARS WOOHOOOOOO!