Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys Review

Wow… This book made me emotional…

Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.

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. summary

  “Guilt is a hunter.
Fate is a hunter.
Shame is a hunter.
Fear is a hunter.”

“The Wilhelm Gustloff was pregnant with lost souls conceived of war. They would crowd into her belly and she would give birth to their freedom.”
While strolling through Barnes and Noble a few days ago, I was looking for a book to purchase when I stumbled upon a signed copy of Salt to the Sea. I had remembered seeing it around the bookstagram community a while back and decided to pick it up. I was not prepared for my heart being smashed by the end of the book while I stayed up until midnight trying to finish it.

I feel people underestimate the power a strong cast of characters can have if the author takes the time to develop and humanize them. Salt to the Sea is highly character driven, but the plot never feels slow or lacking because the characters are so rich in their detail and personality. I never wanted to put the book down because I had to know what happened to these characters that I had come to love and care about. It was nice that all character relationships felt natural and not forced. Emilia looked up to Florian, because he saved her life. So of course, she would look to him for protection. Florian and Joana’s relationship grew at a realistic pace throughout the story. It was sweet how they went from not trusting one another, to having passing thoughts about each other, and eventually opening up to one another. By the middle of the book, I found myself shipping them and thought they were the most adorable pair.

The end of Salt to the Sea is based on an actual event so it shouldn’t have been a surprise to me that things were going to get emotional, but seeing as I picked the book up on a whim, I was not prepared. When the ship went down, I was crying from then until the end of the book. I usually tear up during books, but not cry, so any books that can make me actually cry has done its job of getting me attached to these characters. They felt real.

A great thing about Salt to the Sea is the fact that it is telling a story that is often forgotten by history. This is an extremely tragic event, yet many have not even heard of it. While this novel is historical fiction, it has inspired me to look more into the events that inspired it. What makes Salt to the Sea so great, is that there is a very diverse set of POVs. Characters are from many different countries, backgrounds, nationalities; yet they have come together in the pursuit of the same goal. It helps the reader to see the situation from many different POVs and understand how diverse people can come together.

Overall, I loved Salt to the Sea. I’m really glad that I picked it up and read it before the end of the year because it might just be one of my favorite reads this year. If you want a character driven novel that will leave you in a pool of tears, CHECK THIS OUT! It is an awe-inspiring read that everyone should pick up.

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