February 2, 2016
Salt To The Sea is Ruta Sepetys’ third historical fiction novel. I had read her book Between Shades Of Gray, and unfortunately I had not enjoyed it. This book on the other hand was fantastic. The pacing, characters, and setting were all awesome. The plot was interesting and original. Overall, Salt To The Sea was a very successful historical fiction novel.
In both of the Ruta Sepetys books that I have read, the story follows a little known event in history. Salt To The Sea is the story of a Lithuanian nurse, a Prussian man with unknown motives, a Polish girl with a secret, and a proud Nazi boy. All of these characters are boarding the Wilhelm Gustoff, a refugee ship that set sail and sunk in 1945. This little known ship sinking killed north of 9,000 people. There were more casualties on the Wilhelm Gustoff than casualties on the Titanic and Lusitania combined. So why do so little people know of this sinking? Ruta Sepetys explains why in a very interesting interview that I linked here.
Ruta Sepetys does something in Salt To The Sea that can be hard to find, especially in YA books. She writes not one but four main, multi layered, realistic, and likable characters. The four main characters, Joanna, Florian, Emilia, and Alfred all had struggles and pasts that developed beautifully throughout the story. They were all flawed and felt like real people. Not only were the main characters wonderfully developed, but the side characters were too. I sympathized with Klaus, the Shoe Poet, and Ingrid. They were all very real characters.
The different character relationships was another real and enjoyable aspect of Salt To The Sea. All the relationships were nicely developed. Klaus and the Shoe Poet had a sweet relationship, as well as Florian and Emilia’s. The romance in this story was a nice aspect that I did not expect. It was developed and enjoyable, but it was definitely not over the top.
Salt To The Sea had excellent pacing. I could have easily read the whole book in one sitting. Perhaps it was the short chapters. Maybe it was the short time frame the book covers. Whatever it was, Salt To The Sea was a fast paced and intriguing book.
Overall I really enjoyed Salt To The Sea by Ruta Sepetys It had an excellent plot, beautiful prose, and interesting characters. I highly recommend this book if you enjoy historical fiction or if you would like to know more about this tragic event in history. If you have read this book I would love to know what you thought.