Published by Philomel Books on February 2nd 2016
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.
As I write this, I am a little hesitant to post this review. If you’ve read my previous reviews, you know that I absolutely love historical fiction books so when I heard about Salt to Sea I had to read it. I heard so many glowing reviews about the book that it settled it for me and I rushed to check it out at my library.
Unfortunately, Salt to the Sea was not the book for me. By no means do I want to diminish the time period that is being written about. It was a horrific time in our history and should be continued to written about and remembered for what it was.
One of the main reasons why I love historical fiction so much is because it blends two of my favorite things about reading. It gives me the ability to escape to a world (time period) that isn’t my own and live through other people’s lives that are completely different than my own. Thus it creates a bond between me and the characters. I know, I know, at this moment I might seem a little crazy but this is why I love reading so much.
This story is told in very short chapters; I’m talking 1-3 page chunks before it switches another character. For the most part, I love multi-perspective books. I love when you get more perspective than one. The way that Salt to the Sea was written did not work for me. This division created distance between me and the characters that created an apathy to what was happening to them in the story. This is not the normal for me, especially when reading about WWII. I love feeling connected to the characters that I read and I wanted to love this story and characters but couldn’t find myself emotionally invested because of the whip lash created by the constant switch of characters. I know that if I was allowed to spend more time per chapter with these characters that I would have loved them as much as everyone else does but unfortunately that isn’t the case.