Thursday, January 28, 2016

Book Review: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys @RutaSepetys

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys book cover and review
Sepetys is just a phenomenal storyteller. Salt to the Sea is a fictional account of a WWII event: the sinking of The Wilhelm Gustloff in 1945 as everyone is trying to evacuate East Prussia.

We follow a small group of characters as they make their way across the land and the water trying to reach the ships that will take them to safety. They are cold, hungry, frightened, and some are injured. Most of them have secrets which could get them killed.

The narration switches between four different people. Three are members of this group, and one is a soldier that has been assigned to The Wilhelm Gustloff. Their paths will cross.

As we follow these people through their journey, we learn bits and pieces about their pasts and how they ended up in this predicament. Not all the stories will turn out to be true, but by the end of Salt to the Sea it will all become clear. This technique definitely keeps the pages turning.

It did take me a while to keep the narrators clear. I would have to page back to remind myself which one was talking. This is a personal thing of mine -- I always read too fast and miss some details until I make myself slow down. Not all of the narrators are likable. I found Alfred, the soldier, to be the most compelling (not likeable!) Most of his narration is in the form of letters he imagines writing to a neighbor girl who he is in love with. He's a Nazi and believes in everything Hitler stands for. I think he's also a psychopath. Salt to the Sea wouldn't be the same story without his perspective. The contrast to the other characters is chilling and makes their plight all the more harrowing.

I can't wait to recommend Salt to the Sea. Sepetys has included sources for those who want to know more about this event. I think WWII fans will be riveted. Sepetys will be on my "must buy" list forever. I'm so glad she makes the effort to research and write about these events that have faded into historical oblivion.

Published by Philomel, February 2, 2016
eARC obtained from NetGalley
400 pages

Rating: 5/5

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  1. I really need to read a book by this author. I should probably start with Between Shades of Grey, but I have to be emotionally ready for it. I also agree that it's refreshing to bring an unknown part of WW II in a book, it helps distinguish itself from a slew of others.

  2. Amazing review!!! I didn't know if I wanted to read this book but, after reading your review it is now definitely on top of my TBR! ;)

    Brittany @Maybe Books Will Be Our Always

  3. I agree -- this is an excellent book. I didn't connect super well with the characters in BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY, but the total opposite is true of its sequel. The writing is so good in this one. I could see everything, feel everything -- the story has really stuck with me. Glad I'm not the only one who enjoyed it!


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