Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea

A Novel

Book - 2016
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"As World War II draws to a close, refugees try to escape the war's final dangers, only to find themselves aboard a ship with a target on its hull"-- Provided by publisher.
World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom. When their paths converge in route to the ship that promises salvation, Joana, Emilia, and Florian find their strength, courage, and trust in one another tested with each step closer toward safety. When tragedy strikes the Wilhelm Gustloff, they must fight for the same thing: survival.
Publisher: New York : Philomel Books, [2016]
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780399160301
0399160302
Branch Call Number: TEEN SEPETYS
Characteristics: 391 pages : maps ; 22 cm

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2016 Winner, Young Adult Fiction


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i
INVS
Mar 08, 2019

I had mixed feelings about this read - I'd given up on the audiobook. She's so right that this disaster from WWII is rarely ever mentioned, so I'm glad to understand it. I just didn't care for the style used to convey the account. However, it did give me a new, underappreciated view of how millions of people didn't agree with what country leaders were doing and died trying to escape the carnage. My personal animosity toward the people that lined up behind the Nazi society is great & I struggle to overcome these personal feelings.

The author writes of the flower wreaths cast into the water caught me short because she lists hibiscus. I pondered how hibiscus might be found in this landlocked cold climate....picky. There are several points of interest offered from this read that I intend to pursue further.

My family member was a German POW. When liberated, the gates were opened & the POWs were more afraid of the approaching Russians than of their captors.

k
kmobuckeye
Feb 12, 2019

Loved the rich world building, Between the setting and the writing, everything was so vivid, which just amped up the intensity.

r
robinandrews10
Feb 12, 2019

If you are a fan of historical fiction (WW 2), this is a must read! Beautifully written. I couldn’t put it down.

g
goddessbeth
Jan 20, 2019

Once again, Ruta Sepetys spins an engaging, well-paced historical fiction. As with Between Shades of Gray (which is touched on in this novel), the setting is WWII. The climax of the story is the greatest maritime disaster of all time- which, before reading this, I would've said was probably the sinking of the Lusitania or the Titanic. Nope. When the Titanic went down, 1,500 souls perished. When the Wilhelm Gustloff sank, over 9,000 people died. The tragedy of the Wilhelm Gustloff within this book is no great surprise- the title, the cover, all elude to it. But until I read this I had never heard about it. It's chilling to think how easy it is to cover up the deaths of over 9,000 civilians in a single hour during a war.

To be honest, more heartbreaking (and just as horrific) is the background of the characters, each of whom survives the atrocities of war and carries guilt, shame, and fear. Well, ok, except for the sociopathic Hitler Youth character, who is very clearly meant to be a character nobody likes. Every other character is totally sympathetic, even the under-developed ones. Because Sepetys is a thorough researcher and not prone to a lot of historic embellishment, and because I've read Between Shades of Gray (about the gulags in Siberia, also meticulously researched), I have to assume these plot points are based on fact.

The swath of destruction cut by the Soviets, as well as the Nazis, and the horrors suffered by everyone caught in between, is truly brought to life. Having a character who strongly identifies as Polish, or Lithuanian, or East Prussian, also makes real the fact that these countries no longer existed as they had just years before. And it's very humbling to think of that. And heartbreaking. The loss of refuge and hope is, to me, more poignant than even the loss of life.

In addition to being a powerful story, it's very fast-paced, making it the kind of book you pour through in a sitting. The story is told from four different perspectives, and they swap chapters. Each chapter is 1-5 pages long, so you never get too far into the head of any single character. But each voice is different enough that they are recognizable instantly.

Overall, I recommend this book to anyone who likes historic fiction, or YA, or both. Especially if you don't mind having your heart broken, and want to learn more about the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff (her Author's Note includes some great resources and references).

OPL_MichelleC Jan 16, 2019

YA historical fiction. A very powerful story, set during WWII. The book offers new perspectives, alternating between four narratives representing a range of people.

q
qqqq2
Jan 12, 2019

lala

Librarian_Deb Nov 19, 2018

An unlikely group forms as refugees in East Prussia who are fleeing the advance of the Russian army move toward the Polish coast. There is a nurse - Joanna whose group comes across Amelia - a 15 year old Polish girl and Florian -a mysterious Prussian youth with a secret mission. These characters take turns narrating parts of the story along with Alfred-a cocky young soldier who is assigned to the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship assigned to transport the refugees once they arrive at the coast. The novel is of course based on real historic events, and the Wilhelm Gustloff was torpedoed by the Russians as it crossed the Baltic sea. Overcrowded with refugees, there were over 9000 casualties. This story puts a human face on this tragedy as the reader gets to know these characters struggling to survive the atrocities of war. It's targeted toward a young adult audience, since the main characters are teenagers, however the theme of wartime survival should appeal to adults as well. Just be prepared for a poignant ending

m
michaelA_6
Nov 02, 2018

The book I am review is salt to the sea it is historical fiction about world war 2. The author introduces a couple of characters that were involved in world war 2 she uses the characters to tell their perspective and what they did during the war. this book has been good to me by giving a lot of action this is coming for a man that does not like to read so I have to give this book same props. I will recommend this book for anyone that like historical about world war 2 and someone that like a lot of action.

m
MaryClyde224
Oct 06, 2018

One of my favorite books about WWII. A must read for anyone who loved The Book Theif.

l
lledomik
Aug 12, 2018

I can't recommend this book enough for any lover of historical fiction. The story is told from the perspective of multiple characters, each very different from the other. I love stories of WWII and it was refreshing to learn about an event that has largely been hidden from the history books. There is plenty of action and a bit of romance. Fascinating and a quick read.

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ArapahoeMaryA Dec 31, 2016

“But unlike Mama, I would not go to heaven. My secrets padlocked the gates. I'd be a torn kite stuck in the dead branches of a tree, unable to fly.”

KindianaJones_VWML May 06, 2016

"The Fuhrer is a talented watercolorist. He applied to art school [...] but the school did not accept him. Oh, how they will regret it."

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