Book Review: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

25614492If you have never read a book by Ruta Sepetys, you MUST start now.  I fell in love with her writing while reading her debut, Between Shades of Gray, and then enjoyed her second book, Out of the Easy.  Both were outstanding works of historical fiction.  When I came across her latest novel, Salt to the Sea, on NetGalley, I had to read it.  This book did not disappoint!

Salt in the Sea brings together four teenagers from different homelands whose lives cross paths as they flock to the docks in hopes of getting on the ship, Wilhelm Gustloff, vying for safety and freedom.


Joana, a nurse practitioner who fled from Lithuania four years prior, lives with constant guilt for leaving her cousin, Lina (yes, Lina from Between Shades of Gray), behind.


Florian, a German soldier, holds his secrets close and is in constant fear of being caught for the crimes he committed.


Emilia, a Polish teen eight months pregnant, fears the Russian soldiers and feels death is her only escape.


Alfred, a young, arrogant sailor, works on the Wilhelm Gustloff,the ship carrying the wounded soldiers and refugees to safety.

Sepetys takes a new approach on the WWII stories that have been documented for years. Salt to the Sea looks at this tragic war through the eyes of innocent children and teenagers who have been abandoned or separated from their families.  Each of the characters experienced unspeakable atrocities in their own lives yet found each other through this journey.

With each and every book I read by Ruta Sepetys, I feel like I learn something new.  This one was no different.  I had never heard of the Wilhelm Gustloff, the Amber Room, or Operation Hannibel.  Her writing whisks me and and no matter what devastation the characters face, I am so engaged in the story, that I can’t put it down until the end.  And when it is over, I want to pick it up and start it again.

5 Stars for Salt to the Seas!  I can’t wait to book talk it to students.


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