Salt to the Sea
by Ruta Sepetys
Well then. Ruta has done it again -- she's managed to write another beautiful book that breaks my heart and opens my eyes to a part of history I was totally ignorant about. Definitely another favourite.Summary: It's early 1945 and a group of people trek across Germany, bound together by their desperation to reach the ship that can take them away from the war-ravaged land. Four young people, each haunted by their own dark secret, narrate their unforgettable stories.
This inspirational novel is based on a true story from the Second World War. When the German ship the Wilhelm Gustloff was sunk in port in early 1945 it had over 9000 civilian refugees, including children, on board. Nearly all were drowned. Ruta Sepetys, acclaimed author of Between Shades of Grey, brilliantly imagines their story.
This one was different from Between Shades of Gray because loving it sort of crept up on me. I didn't really realise just how much the characters had gotten under my skin until the last few chapters and it hit me just how much I cared and how thoroughly the book had broken my heart.
I didn't love the alternating POV's, because one of the four characters was just really insufferable and annoying -- but he was intentionally written that way and while I didn't like reading through his parts of the book, they were necessary and tie the story together more neatly in the last third of the book. But the other three POV characters? I adored them all, and the side characters.
And I really love that Ruta chose to tell this particular story. Like with Between Shades of Gray, I hadn't really heard anything about this part of history -- it was never mentioned once in any of my history classes at school, I never see it mentioned in movies or documentaries or anything about the war... It really highlights how painfully one-sided and selectively we're taught to remember history.
There's not much else I can say about the book really. It was a beautiful story -- the writing, the characters, the plot...all of it. It'll make your heart ache, in good ways and bad, if you give it the chance. At this point, I'll basically read anything Ruta Sepetys writes.
I'd rate the book 5 stars out of 5.