Book Review: Salt To The Sea

Salt to the Sea
by Ruta Sepetys


Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets. Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.

As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom. Yet not all promises can be kept.

Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope.

This is not my first foray into historical fiction, having read quite a few over the years – All The Light We Cannot See, The Book Thief, Sarah’s Key among those which I particularly enjoyed. It is a genre I am increasingly finding interest in. So when I read the premise of Salt To The Sea, I was immediately intrigued.

It had an excellent plot for a historical fiction novel. I liked the convergence of stories of the four main characters, and with the emerging threat of a inevitable disaster, it was all set for a suspenseful climax. True to this, the book was emotional, tragic, depicting the prevalence of the human spirit, despite the cruelties of war.

Ruta Sepetys’s prose is beautiful. The only reason I did not give this book a 5 is because I wished I had been more emotionally invested in the characters. Perhaps it was the short chapters and switching perspectives that we never really get to delve deeper into each character. Pity because it would have made the ending that much more impactful.

4 stars.
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