I received this free from the publishers via NetGalley for review purposes
It’s 1945, and four young people who met by chance are travelling across Germany to escape the Soviet advancing army. They’ve heard of the horrors about those who have been occupied by the Soviet army and they are desperately trying to escape that same fate – some have already suffered at the hands of the Soviets. Each are haunted by their own past and secrets. Based on a true story, Salt to the Sea is truly a heart-breaking and devastating read.
Ruta Sepetys is one of my all-time favourite authors, and I have adored both Between Shades of Gray and Out of the Easy. She tells the stories that have been ignored or overshadowed by other terrible events in history. Salt to the Sea tells the story of the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship carrying many refugees, with a death toll estimated to be over 9,000.
I believe this is Ruta Sepetys best book to date. The pacing was slow at first, but it was needed to get the background of the story, and to meet all our characters. There were 4 POVs, which obviously, worried me. Because when there are that many POVs there is a risk that the story is too jumpy and jarring when switching from one POV to the next, or the characters are not distinct enough. However, Sepetys is such a splendid writer that this was not a problem.
I fell in love with many of the characters, and my heart broke when theirs did. Joana, Emilia, Florian, the shoemaker and the wandering boy. They all had such distinct personalities, with a lot of depth and development throughout the novel. Emilia was my favourite, Joana following closely behind. One character I did not like was Albert, but I don’t think he was supposed to be likeably anyway.
I think Salt to the Sea is a must read for any fans of historical fiction or history in general. I’d definitely recommend it to fans of Sepetys other novel, and for fans of the Book Thief and fans of Elizabeth Wein’s novels.
You could tell by the author’s note that Ruta Sepetys but a lot of effort of love into the novel, and it really does show throughout the novel. I would definitely recommend.
MY RATING: ★★★★★