Reviews

Salt to the Sea, by Ruta Sepetys

ljbentley27's review against another edition

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5.0

Salt tothe Sea by Ruta Sepetys broke my heart.

This is a bold statement to make but there are few books that have made me emote in the same way. It is a fictional account of the real life events that happened during the Second World War. It is a story of how people of different nationalities – most of who were opposed to each other due to their countries government ruling – come together in times of adversity.

Sepetys explores the frailty of life and the spirit of human nature in Salt to the Sea. At times I had to remind myself to breathe because the story had me gripped. It truly is an astounding novel and a very real contender for this year’s Carnegie Greenaway award for which Salt to the Sea has been nominated.

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys is available now.

For more information regarding Ruta Sepetys (@RutaSepetys) please visit www.rutasepetys.com.

For more information regarding Penguin Random House UK Children’s (@RHKidsUK) please visit www.randomhousechildrens.co.uk.

For more information regarding Puffin Books (@PuffinBooks) please visit www.puffin.co.uk.

For more information regarding The CILIP Awards (@CILIPCKG) please visit www.ckg.org.uk.

jj24's review against another edition

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4.0

Remember in school when you learned about the sinking of the Wilhem Gustloff?

Yeah, that's what I thought. Me, too.

As she did in [b:Between Shades of Gray|7824322|Between Shades of Gray|Ruta Sepetys|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327873479s/7824322.jpg|10870318], author Ruta Sepetys vividly and emotionally gives a voice to those who have been lost to history in her latest book, [b:Salt to the Sea|25614492|Salt to the Sea|Ruta Sepetys|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1437084512s/25614492.jpg|27126244]. In this fast-paced and stirring book, readers follow a rag-tag band of refugees through Nazi-occupied East Prussia in the waning days of WWII as they try to escape from the advancing Russian forces. The refugees are headed toward ports on the Baltic Sea where they have heard ships will transport them to safety.

While the refugee group includes both a child and an elderly man, the majority of those in the group are teens and young adults, and Sepetys primarily tells the story through their point of view. Don't be put off by this YA bent. Sepetys's writing is smart and mature and will appeal to those who normally wouldn't consider a YA book.

WWII-inspired literature is prevalent, and I find myself sadly thinking of its relevance today more than ever. How "leaders" foment hatred and distrust among groups of neighbors who once worked for the same goals. "Would she believe that Poles, Jews, Ukrainians, Armenians, and Hungarians had all coexisted peacefully in Lviv before the war?"

Sepetys includes a poignant author's note at the end of the book, parts of which I'd like to share here: "Stories of war are often read and discussed worldwide by readers whose nations stood on opposite side during battle. History divided us, but through reading we can be united in story, study, and remembrance. Books join us together as a global reading community, but more important, a global human community striving to learn from the past. What determines how we remember history? And which elements are preserved and penetrate the collective consciousness?...When the survivors are gone, we must not let the truth disappear with them."

And the Wilhem Gustolff? It's not exactly a spoiler, since it's a matter of historical record, but it was the largest maritime disaster in history. The boat was designed to hold 1,500 and was carrying over 10,500. It was sunk by Russian torpedos and over 9,400 people died, most of whom were civilians (by comparison, 1,503 died on the Titanic). In 1945 alone it is estimated that over 25,000 people lost their lives in the Baltic Sea, again most of them civilians.

4+ stars

crimsonlady's review against another edition

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5.0

You know that little known film, "Titanic?" Skip it. Read this book instead. If I had to describe this book in one word, I would say it was haunting.

cheshirematt's review against another edition

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5.0

Wow. That's all I'm left with after finishing this book.
I feel honoured to have learned about this tragic event in History.
I am shocked that I never knew anything about it.
Graphic, disturbing, haunting, eerie, but eye-opening.
You owe it to yourself to read this book. Not only is it one of the most tragic events to have ever happened, it is also one of the most unknown.

elvis_waugh's review against another edition

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4.0

Ruta Sepetys has blended a little known tragedy - the sinking of a former pleasure cruiser the Willhelm Gustloff - with the poignant stories of four teenagers all seeking escape.

Told through multiple POVs a strong backstory is created for each character. This historical novel is heartbreaking detailing the struggles and sacrifices, and the cruelty and hatred endured by countless refugees. Sepetys provides a face to the refugees' plight and exposes their vulnerability. There are numerous acts of kindness, courage and selflessness that had me reaching for the tissues knowing the inevitable ending.

clxxgs09's review

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dark emotional informative sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

4.5

capricemarie13's review

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  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No

4.5

josiegjackson's review against another edition

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4.0

I really liked reading this book. It’s captivating in terms of story telling and short chapters making it an easier read. I would love to give this a 5

But: to have that one more star:
Quite hard to understand at the start with lots of different characters experiencing different experiences and you don’t know how these connect.
Also just a little bit predictive. But it’s the type of writing that have kept me hooked. I would still recommend this book!

snowhite_says's review against another edition

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4.0

4.5*

morgan96's review

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5.0

Such a sad and tragic story with some absolutely beautiful moments. I loved to see them create bonds and rely on each other during such difficult time like a little family. It was also an interesting take on WW2 as it's not necessarily the POV we're use to, which can be a little weird at first.

I won't really talk about the plot as I feel the characters are way more important in this book (will probably be spoilery)

First the big elephant in the room: Alfred. Such a delusional and despicable character and he keeps getting worse and worse every chapter until the very end of the book.

Emilia: She went through so much and yet managed to stay strong after all the things that happened to her. She deserved such a better life but I'm glad she was able to meet people that truly cared about her and wouldn't forget about her.

Joana and Florian: I love them so much. I was rooting for them to have some time together so I was pleasantly surpised that they got their happy ending (if we can call it that). I'm also glad that gave a family to Halinka and Heinz it was for the best that they all stay together.

The shoe Poet and Heinz's bond was so beautiful and it was evident that he cared so much about the kid. I wish they had more time together.

Ingrid also gone too soon. she was also such a brave character. It was nice that she at least got that sweet moment with the soldier