This review is spoiler-free!
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Release Date: February 2nd 2016 by Philomel Books
Format: Hardcover, 391 pages
Find it here: Goodreads || Book Depository
As I’ve said before more times than I’ve probably needed to, Ruta Septys is one of my favorite authors, and possibly my favorite historical fiction author of all time. Between Shades of Gray is one of my favorite books and when I found out she was writing another WWII book that mentions the main character of Between Shades of Gray, I was beside myself. I was beside myself knowing she was writing another WWII book, but the other bit didn’t hurt any of the feelings I was having.
Sepetys did not disappoint. The book, despite being a little confusing at first with all of the POVs, was phenomenal and heart-wrenching. I knew very little about the event the book centered around, the voyage and ultimate tragedy of the ship Wilhelm Gustloff (that doesn’t count as spoilers since it’s a real historical event, right? I’m pretty sure it doesn’t…), so I was able to go into the story relatively naive to what was going to be happening, aside from the obvious horrific event that struck. I grew very attached not only to the characters (except one of them; I wasn’t fond of Alfred, but I’m pretty sure I wasn’t supposed to be), and going through their story as they made their way along the sea amidst a terrible war really threw my heart around. I’d do it all again, if I could.
The thing that I had a problem with out of the story was the ending, I was a little thrown off guard and had some trouble deciphering what was going on at the very end, simply because it kind of switched tracks in the telling (not really a POV, as it had been previously), and I ended up getting pretty confused. I was confused in the beginning trying to keep the characters straight, but that happens to me all of the time. The ending, though, I was really lost. I understood what was being said, but my brain didn’t immediately switch tracks like it probably should have. I didn’t use that as a fault against the book rating, though, because the rest of it was really played out well and flowed so nicely.
Ruta Sepetys is a brilliant story teller, and if you haven’t given her a go yet, please do. I recommend Between Shades of Gray first, but any of them will do. I can’t wait for more from her.