Read: January 8th-19th, 2016
Publisher: Philomel Books
Format: Hardcover, 400 pages
Source: McNally Robinson/ First Reads Book Club
Description from GoodReads:
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.
Guilt is a hunter. Fate is a hunter. Shame is a hunter. Fear is a hunter.
Serious topics make for serious books, and that's exactly what Salt to the Sea was, a very dark and grim read. Knowing exactly what I was getting into before starting Salt to the Sea, I prepared my heart for dark waters.
Salt to the Sea is told between four narratives, I instantly gained a favourite and a not so favourite within the first couple chapters. Each narrative came with a different story, and a different perspective on World War II, each character having to face one of the many different struggles that Hitler put them up against. From being Polish descent, to having a disability, with these different perspectives you were enlightened when it came to the truth of it all. Most of the time you only hear about the Jewish who were slaughtered in WWII, people often forget that many others were also put on Hitlers kill list. This book tells their story.
I went into Salt to the Sea thinking that the novel was just another made up story to go with WW2, I was wrong. The ship was real, the statistics are real, thousands of people really died. Going with with what I said above, I had never heard of the Wilhelm Gustloff. You'd think that such a large number of people being killed during an attack would be taught in schools, but it isn't. I'm sad to say that I hadn't heard of the Wilhelm Gusloff until reading Salt to the Sea, but I'm glad to be aware of it now, to be aware of the losses. Even if our history is horrific, one should still honour the losses that our mistakes made.
Salt to the Sea was a grim novel about harsh truths of WWII, leaving you tormented with the wrongs of our past. Ruta Sepetys' writing makes you relive the horror of it all.
If after finishing this novel you feel like you still need more, check out Sepetys' other novels Between Shades of Grey and Out of Easy. Between Shades of Grey and Salt to the Sea are actually connected by a character and their family, so it'll be perfect cure for that bookish hangover.
"Sometimes, when I did a really good job of pretending, I even fooled myself"
"Survival had it's price: guilt."
"Just when you think this war has taken everything you loved, you meet someone and realize that somehow you still have more to give."
Recommend to People Who Enjoy:
Young Adult, Contemporary, Historical Fiction, War, Adventure, Survival, WW2, War Stories