Ruta Sepetys is a genius! The way she incorporates history with fiction is honestly mind-blowing. After reading the first few pages of Salt to the Sea, I knew I would be hooked on this book just like I was with Between Shades of Gray (click here to read my review), and there was no way I would be able to put it down. Throughout the story, I couldn’t imagine what was going to happen next, nor did I want to. The journey was incredible, and the characters were so different and dynamic that it felt as if I were reading three separate stories until Ruta combined them all. She makes everything feel so real; I could almost see, smell, and feel everything going on around each character!
Salt to the Sea follows three people trying to get to freedom at the end of the war in East Prussia. Each have secrets they are holding onto, but they all have a common goal: get on board the Wilhelm Gustloff. Brought together through chance encounters, these strangers must trust one another to have the chance of making it onto the ship. However, just when safety seems to have arrived, tragedy hits, and they must once again fight for their lives to survive!
This story, though absolutely amazing, was also painful to read. I’m not too fond of when a book sticks with one mood all the way through, and this book certainly didn’t. Just when you thought the characters would live happily ever after or at least be safe, another tragedy would transpire! Salt to the Sea is a story of massive heartbreak and catastrophe. There is brutality, heartache, sorrow, and death, but there is also a glimmer of light that shines out of all of that pain.
What I loved most about this book was that even though it was tragic and utterly dumbfounding, the way that the characters banded together and sacrificed for each other made the whole book worth it. The love that is shown in Salt to the Sea makes you believe in humanity again. It doesn’t have to be in a romantic way, but in the way where even in the face of turmoil, people still have the compassion to sacrifice themselves for the life of another. That is a true testament to selflessness.
Please don’t let my words of tragedy and sorrow repress you from reading Salt to the Sea because it’s so much more than that! I would read this story repeatedly, not because I enjoy reading about other people’s pains, but because of what they did to survive and live after it was all over!