About My Book Reviews

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Title: Salt to the Sea

Author: Ruta Sepetys

Published: 2016

Genre: Historical Fiction

Grade Level: Young Adult

-Trigger Warning: Violence, Sexual violence


Read by: Jorjeana Marie, Will Damron, Cassandra Morris, and Michael Crouch

Length: 8hrs 47min

Recommend: Yes, it was a very good production even though one of them sounded slightly congested



(I can’t stop you, but you might have a better time 😉)


Blurb (from goodreads):

While the Titanic and Lusitania are both well-documented disasters, the single greatest tragedy in maritime history is the little-known 1945 sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, a German cruise liner that was supposed to ferry wartime personnel and refugees to safety from the advancing Red Army. More than 9,000 people, including 5,000 children, lost their lives.

Sepetys crafts four fictionalized but historically accurate voices to convey the real-life tragedy.


My Scores:

Writing Style: Top Notch

Sepetys has really got me hooked on historical fiction! She has this way of making me feel like I’m there with her characters, experiencing the same uncertainty, heartache, worries, and chaos. She takes these boring facts and figures and gives them the human element they deserve. That’s what sets her apart from all other historical fiction writers (that I have read thus far). At no point does she stray away from the mess of tangled emotions that must have plagued those during past times of struggle.

To my amazement, she can take these little-known historical events and make them feel personal to me, like they’re personal to her. Suddenly this event in history is a story full of interest, relevance, and importance.

Under avid protest, she’s slowly turning me into a history buff, lol!

Characters: Absolutely Amazing

Throughout the novel, the POV switches between four main characters. Each has such a distinct voice that I would have easily been able to tell them apart (without headers or a voice-actor change). While I thoroughly enjoyed them all, I found the most interesting to be the German narcissist. As much as I grew to hate him, there was always a small part of me that pitied him. He served as a wonderful foil!

Besides the main four characters is a variety of side-characters that are just as well-developed. They couldn’t be more different from each other in age, nationality, language, and gender, but they are all facing the same fate. They were crafted with the purpose of showing how everyone was affected by WWII. From the young to the old, from the Hungarian to the German, each had a different perspective to share and to learn from.

Plot: Absolute Page Turner

I went into this novel absolutely blind. All I had to go on was the foreshadowing of the cover. So I was completely blindsided by the ending of the novel and felt betrayed (momentarily) by the author. I don’t know if the full emotional impact would have hit me if I had read the blurb.

The pacing is perfect, which is so hard to find in a historical fiction novel! At no point did I feel bored, not even when two POV’s went over the same storyline because each perspective gave the reader new information, which (again) is so hard to find in any novel! There is only once when no new information was given, but it can be easily forgiven for the sake of drama!

Overall: Totally Obsessed

Overall, I am totally obsessed! It was an engaging, heart-warming, suspenseful, and absolutely tragic! I loved every minute of it and was saddened when the I heard the ending credit “audible hopes you have enjoyed this program.” 

I can’t wait to read another one of Sepetys' novels that I purchased at the North Teen Book Festival called Out of the Easy.

Similar Books:

Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys (I highly recommend it!)

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boon (another WWII classic)

Goodreads Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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