After seeing all the hype about Ruta Sepetys’s book, I decided that I wanted to add Salt to the Sea to my TBR. It moved up in the list when I saw my friend’s Goodreads status in which she was reading it and enjoying it. I requested it from the library (due to my book-buying ban) and finished within a day of it being in my possession.
Summary: Based on the actual sinking of the German Wilhelm Gustloff ship during WWII, this story tells the tale from four different point of views of young adults as they prepare for the journey, a blessing in their eyes, their salvation. Unfortunately, they could not have predicted the disaster to come and struggle to survive in the chaos.
I was prepared for this book to feel like the Titanic. I did my research on this disaster a while back and knew it was worse than the Titanic, but I had forgotten how much worse it was. Prepare for a gut-wrenching story. The majority of the book is a “before” of the disaster, so Ruta really gets you wrapped into the characters’ life.
Each person is in such a different circumstance with unique backstory. My favorite was Joana; my least favorite was Alfred (UGH). Ruta wrote him as intentionally annoying. (He reminded me a lot of Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice.) And I understand he provided a lot of the important historical facts, but I could not stand his chapters. He’s just a doofus. Though not a main character (he did not have his own chapters), I have to say I enjoyed Poet very much.
Regarding history, it’s a shame this story doesn’t have as much recognition as Titanic because so many innocent people lost their lives, and they deserve to be remembered. Now, we can at least remember through the eyes of Alfred, Joana, Florian, and Emilia.
But don’t despair! This story dishes up some hope as well. And that hope, when you see it really shines through and makes this story unforgettable. As it should be. Because of this book, it made me really appreciate my life and feel lucky that I get to be safe, healthy, and happy. A book that has an impact on the reader cannot be described as less than fantastic. That’s why stories exist, in my opinion. To reach out to others; to make a difference. And this book does that.
Ruta gets 4.8 out of 5 stars for her incredible storytelling.