“War is catastrophe. It breaks families in irretrievable pieces. But those who are gone are not necessarily lost.”
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. (Goodreads summary because I couldn’t summarize the book well enough to do it justice).
I initially purchased this book because there’s SO MUCH HYPE surrounding this book. I constantly saw it somewhere on my Goodreads feed. So, I bought it. I am so glad I did. This book surrounds the tragedy of Wilhelm Gustloff. [Brief History of Ship]. The Wilhelm Gustloff was a German military ship during WW2. It sunk in 1942 with over 10,000 passengers on board. The death toll was about 9,400. The Wilhelm Gustloff had a higher death toll than the Titanic yet I’ve never heard of the Wilhelm Gustloff. I even asked my brother–a huge history nerd–if he had heard of the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff and he hadn’t. Why has this part of history been forgotten?
This is not a pretty book. It’s beautifully written and the characters are excellent, but the content is definitely not a light read. It describes women throwing their babies at the ship in an attempt to get them on the ship. It’s quite gruesome, but it’s beautifully executed. The chapters are usually written in only a few paragraphs which makes this quite an easy read. Ruta always does an amazing job researching for each of her books. It really allows you to dive (no pun intended) into the world of the forgotten vessel.
The characters are all haunted by their past. The book is told in a multiple perspectives, but it is beautifully executed. The first hundred pages are a bit difficult because I was trying to get used to all the different perspectives. After I was used to them, I enjoyed it so much. It was nice knowing the perspective of individuals who were so unique from each other. One character in Salt to the Sea is kin to a character from Ruta’s first novel Between Shades of Gray. It isn’t obligatory to read BSoG first, but it enhances the reading experience of SttS.
If you have never read a historical fiction novel, allow Salt to the Sea to be the one you read. It’s absolutely beautiful, and I can’t recommend it enough. I rated this 5/5 stars on Goodreads, and it is definitely a new favorite of mine. I can’t wait to meet Ruta in less than a month!
Have you guys read Salt to the Sea? What did you think of it? Let me know down in the comments. Thanks for reading my review, and I’ll see you guys soon. Bye!