SPOILER FREE REVIEW
Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com):
Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.
As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.
Yet not all promises can be kept.
Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope.
Goodreads Rating: 4.38/5 Stars
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
If there is one genre I wish I read more often, it is definitely historical fiction. These books never fail to enrapture me with their facts blended into a finely crafted story that share some truth about a event in history. Salt to the Sea was no exception to masterful crafting and a haunting tale. (Also, I read this book in a day, so it truly shows how amazing it is.)
Now, I have never read a book by this author before, but her books have been recommended to me previously. I was fortunate enough to receive this book for free when I attended BookCon and was finally able to read it during my road trip/vacation! What’s nice about this book is that the chapters are super short – I believe the longest one was five pages long? – and the story is told through four different character perspectives.
One of my favorite parts to this book was getting to know the four characters – Joana, Florian, Emilia, and Albert – on an individual level while also getting to see their relationships start and grow throughout the duration of the novel. The horrible idea to remember is that they were all brought together because of World War II and the oppression both Germany and Russia provided towards the end of it. However, having the war be the focus also gave room for new perspectives to be given from younger people living during that time, while also coming from views on different sides of the war. (But the views are all fictional, so one can’t forget that.)
But the most important aspect and event to this book revolves around one of the most horrific boat sinkings of all time – that of the [insert name here]. This ship was carrying 10,000 people – a mix of injured soldiers, refugees from war, and personal – from the coast of Germany, across the Baltic Sea, to a German Island. However, Russian submarines torpedoed the ship and it sank. Over 9,000 people perished.
Yet, no one talks about this tragedy, or the other ships (which carried refugees) that sank during the war.
That is what made the authors note so important for this novel. Now, I usually don’t read author notes or acknowledgements, but for this book I felt compelled to. And I’m glad I did read it. Ruta called for more authors to take up the challenge of creative historical fiction works for the integrity of digging up untold stories and sharing them with the world. As a writer, I am very happy to accept that proposition and run with it.
“I became good at pretending. I became so good that after a while the lines blurred between my truth and fiction. And sometimes, when I did a really good job of pretending, I even fooled myself.”
― Ruta Sepetys,