Salt to the Sea

Ruta Sepetys
For readers of Between Shades of Gray and All the Light We Cannot See, international bestselling author Ruta Sepetys returns to WWII in this epic novel that shines a light on one of the war's most devastating—yet unknown—tragedies. In 1945, World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer toward safety. Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.Told in alternating points of view, and perfect for fans of Anthony Doerr's Pulitzer Prize-winning All the Light We Cannot See, Erik Larson's critically acclaimed #1 New York Times bestseller Dead Wake, and Elizabeth Wein's Printz Honor Book Code Name Verity, this masterful work of historical fiction is inspired by the real-life tragedy that was the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff--the greatest maritime disaster in history. As she did in Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys unearths a shockingly little-known casualty of a gruesome war, and proves that humanity can prevail, even in the darkest of hours.Praise for Salt to the Sea:"Ruta Sepetys is a master of historical fiction. In Salt to the Sea the hard truths of her herculean research are tempered with effortless, intimate storytelling, as her warm and human characters breathe new life into one of the world's most terrible and neglected tragedies." —Elizabeth Wein, New York Times bestselling author of Printz Award Honor Book Code Name Verity  “A rich, page-turning story that brings to vivid life a terrifying—and little-known—moment in World War II history.” —Steve Sheinkin, author of Newbery Honor and National Book Award finalist Bomb "Brutal. Beautiful. Honest." —Sabaa Tahir, New York Times bestselling author of An Ember in the Ashes  * "Sepetys excels in shining light on lost chapters of history, and this visceral novel proves a memorable testament to strength and resilience in the face of war and cruelty." —Publishers Weekly, starred review  * "This haunting gem of a novel begs to be remembered, and in turn, it tries to remember the thousands of real people its fictional characters represent. What it asks of us is that their memories, and their stories, not be abandoned to the sea." —Booklist, starred review * "Artfully told and sensitively crafted, Sepetys’s exploration of this little-known piece of history will leave readers weeping." —School Library Journal, starred review"The inevitability of the ending (including the loss of several characters) doesn't change its poignancy, and the short chapters and slowly revealed back stories for each character guarantee the pages keep turning. Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful." —Kirkus"This book includes all the reasons why teens read:  for knowledge, for romance, for amazing and irritating characters.  This novel will break readers’ hearts and then put them back together a little more whole." —VOYA "Sepetys’s...scene-setting is impeccable; the penetrating cold of the journey is palpable, and she excels at conveying the scope of the losses while giving them a human face....[T]his elegiac tale succeeds with impressive research, affecting characters, and keen, often unsettling insights into humans’ counterposed tendencies toward evil and nobility. Readers will be left to discuss which impulse triumphs here." —The Horn Book Praise for Between Shades of Gray:A New York Times Notable Book of 2011A Wall Street Journal Best Children’s Book of 2011A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2011The iTunes 2011 Rewind Best Teen NovelA School Library Journal Best Book of 2011A Booklist Best Book of 2011A Kirkus Best Book of 20112012 Indies Choice Young Adult Book of the YearA Carnegie Medal FinalistA William C. Morris FinalistA New York Times BestsellerAn International Bestseller “Few books are beautifully written, fewer still are important; this novel is both.” —The Washington Post* “A harrowing page-turner.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review* “A gripping story.” —School Library Journal, starred review* “Bitterly sad, fluidly written…Sepetys' flowing prose gently carries readers.” —Kirkus, starred review * "Beautifully written and deeply felt…an important book that deserves the widest possible readership.” —Booklist, starred review“Stalin deported and murdered millions, but he could not destroy the seeds of memory, compassion, and art that they left behind. From those seeds, Ruta Septeys has crafted a brilliant story of love and survival that will keep their memory alive for generations to come.” —Laurie Halse Anderson, bestselling author of Speak and Wintergirls“In terrifying detail, Ruta Sepetys re-creates World War II coming of age all too timely today. Between Shades of Gray is a document long overdue.” —Richard Peck, Newbery Award–winning author of A Year Down Yonder“Between Shades of Gray is a story of astonishing force. I feel grateful for a writer like Ruta Sepetys who bravely tells the hard story of what happens to the innocent when world leaders and their minions choose hate and oppression. Beautiful and unforgettable.” —Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Newbery Honor–winning author of Hitler Youth 


Reviewed: 2016-12-30
Update: Here is my video review

This book is a masterpiece. It takes place during WW2 and follows 4 characters as they are seeking freedom on the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety to all. Going into it I was very apprehensive about reading it. Historical fiction is not a genre I typically reach for. But this book blew me away. It's safe to say that this book was the best book I have read this year.

The writing in the book was so phenomenal. The way that Ruta laid out the story through her writing was so just beautiful. I felt like every single word in this novel had a purpose. There were these sentences that she would lace throughout the different points-of-view to connect them that I just thought was so brilliant.

Out of the four main characters I loved 3 of them. I felt so much for them and their struggles. Towards the end of the book I felt like they were people I knew and I desperately wished I could change their fate. I also LOVED the side characters just as much as the main. The one main character I didn't like was a character that you aren't suppose to like so that wasn't necessarily a problem. I just didn't find myself enjoying his chapters as much as the others.

This is a book that I know will stick with me and I am going to be thinking about these characters forever. You definitely won't want to miss this book!
Reviewed: 2016-10-22

Clearly not a book written for elementary students, but it came with such praise from a variety of different people that I had to read it just for fun. I can't rememeber the last time I read a book this long for pleasure.  The 400 pages flew by! I guess "reading" it would be pretty passive, considering I basically engulfed it in about 2 days. A book you just can't put down even if it's time for bedtime.

The format is written in alternating points of view as multiple characters make the lonely trek to survival. The only way to survive is to flee and get on the ship before it leaves port! On each characters trek to freedom they each have their own struggles and secrets that they are hiding. When their paths cross they work together, no matter what their background or secret, to reach their final destination, freedom.  They each must pay a price. For some, it's their own life or the life of someone they love. They are forced to make heart wrenching decisions. The only way to Freedom is to get on the Gustloff Wilhelm, a ship that has a capacity that gets grossly surpassed. Who will make it on the ship? Will they make it to freedom? At what cost?

This book is a Historical Fiction novel. Even if you are history deprived like me, you can completely understand the setting and time at which this story takes place. It provides a view into World War II and the harsh sacrifices that had to be made for survival and freedom. 

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