Author: Ruta Sepetys
Published by: Philomel Books (2016)
My Rating: ★★★★☆
Summary from Goodreads:
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.
Salt to the Sea was a cleverly written, deep story, delicately told through multiple points of view. It was touching and sweet, and overflowing with beauty and skill.
I loved Emilia’s tenderness, Joana’s spirit, and Florian’s hidden softness. They were such unique personalities that flowed together well and fit together smartly, and their stories tied together naturally.
The small details made the story, and though they were, at times, deep and/or disturbing, were very realistic and added a depth to the story, a reality—it didn’t brush over hardships of war or other things; it showed everything, good and bad, bluntly and straightforward.
Speaking of which, most of the story was straightforward writing, which caused it to not be the most quality writing I’ve ever seen. It was hard to connect to the characters at times even though I desperately wanted to—to me, the facts, the realities, the story was so straightforward and practically written that it was hard to emotionally connect at times.
You’ll also noticed I haven’t even mentioned Alfred. To me, he was the weak point of the novel. I feel like the author should have just done three characters since I didn’t really see the point or purpose behind his character and he showed no character growth, either. Maybe there’s some hidden meaning behind this, but I just didn’t get it. He’s the same at the beginning as he is at the end. The idea behind his character has a lot of potential, it just didn’t live up to it at all. I didn’t get the “Hannelore” subplot there, and I don’t remember it being wrapped up clearly, either.
Overall, I did think this was a really good book with some important concepts and themes; it had a unique storyworld and creatively crafted characters. Just when push comes to shove, it lacked in presentation just a bit and fell short in a few places. That said, there isn’t such a thing as a perfect book and looking at the book as a whole it was a solid and satisfying read. 4.0 stars.