Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Wow. Just one word. Wow. Salt to the Sea was more emotional than I could have imagined. Telling the story of a little known World War II Maritime disaster involving the Wilhelm Gustloff. Expertly told from 5 different points of view Septeys gives each character a unique voice and a unique story. For 4 of the 5 stories, their escape from the Nazis may mean life and freedom. For me, the 5th character was one of the few stories I’ve experienced from a Nazi soldier’s point of view and it chilled me to the bone.
Salt to the Sea shines as each character shares their backstory and their observations about the other narrators. Their short journey binds them together in an unexpected way and while the characters presented are fiction, their journeys provide a wonderful lesson about caring for others and helping those who are in need even when you are in need.
Audiobook readers will be pleased to know that each character has his or her own narrator. This added to the intimacy of the story being told. It feels like each character was sitting next to you sharing some of their deepest darkest secrets.
As is often the case when I read historical fiction, I will, at some point, head out to the Internet and start doing my own research. Salt to the Sea had me entranced, I didn’t do any outside research until after the novel was done as I didn’t want to be spoiled. There was a pivotal point in the novel when I realized there was only one way the story could end and I was crushed, but I kept listening, hoping there would be happiness when the story finally came to a close.
World War II is one of my favorite time periods to read about. Finding unique, untold stories from this era is always a treat for me and Salt to the Sea fits the bill. Sometimes the best stories are found on the losing side of a battle and Salt to the Sea tells part of that story in way that allows the reader to connect with an otherwise silent part of history.
A version of this review also appeared in The Gazette. Read it now.
The Quick Book Review
Salt to the SeaAuthor: Ruta Sepetys
Narrator: Cassandra Morris, Jorjeana Marie, Michael Crouch, Will Damron
Published on: February 2, 2016
Genres: young adult, historical fiction
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My Rating: Thumbs Up