Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"Guilt is a hunter. Fate is a hunter. Shame is a hunter. Fear is a hunter."
From the opening pages of Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys, I was hooked. I am a huge fan of Between Shades of Gray, so I couldn't wait to dive into this book. It definitely did NOT disappoint.
Salt to the Sea is set during WWII and follows the story of four very different youths: Emilia, Joana, Alfred, and Florian. All four have very different roles and circumstances in the book. The book is told from all four perspectives as they try to escape the war and survive. All four are tied to the Wilhelm Gustloff and, thus, a difficult fate.
I loved the character development. I honestly felt connected to all characters. All but one character are characters you root for and want to survive. Sepetys poetic, gorgeous writing style really brings the characters to life. I also loved that the "chapters" were extremely short. This made me want to read even faster than I was. I loved the fast pace of the novel. I also loved the constant secrets that were revealed. It really created a realistic feel for a book set in wartime.
Sepetys is an expert at crafting page-turners. I honestly get so wrapped up in her books that I cannot put them down for any reason. I adored the story line overall and felt the book had a solid ending. I do think certain characters' final chapters were a bit rushed. I also would have liked to see more of a divide when time passed. I turned the page and decades had gone by. These are hardly major faults, however, and the quality of the book, story, and writing in general far outweigh these minor issues.
Salt to the Sea also does a great job at illuminating one of history's forgotten tragedies. I had never even heard of this tragedy before this book. I commend Ruta for shining light on history's victims and giving a voice, a meaningful voice at that, to those who lived through it.
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