Book Review: Salt to the Sea

Name: Salt to the Sea

Author: Ruta Sepetys

Published: 2016

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War torn Germany. Four young people. Four dark secrets. Four teenagers whose lives have been torn apart by war meet, along with thousands of other refugees, in the struggle to outpace the advancing Red Army. All are hoping to board the Wilhelm Gustloff: a ship that promises freedom and safety. But not all promises can be kept. 

Salt To The Sea is the true story of one of the worst maritime disasters of WW2. But, I’d never even heard of the Wilhelm Gustloff. It follows Joana, Alfred, Emelia and Florian who meet by chance in the dark heart of 1945 Nazi Germany. They each have their own pasts and secrets that are revealed as you go along – I was hooked!

Ruta Septys has written this book beautifully. It’s from the perspectives of the 4 main characters, rotating in short chapters between them. It’s effective because the short chapters really emphasise how quickly everything happened and most of them end on cliffhangers. I managed to convince some of my friends to read it and they loved it too. Also, it won the Cilip Carnagie Award back in 2017 which is pretty cool seeing as it was only realised in 2016.

As the characters are older, the book does covers more mature topics. Don’t be fooled by the (albeit gorgeous) cover; I wouldn’t recommend to anyone younger than 12. But that added to the book as well – nothing is sugar coated. It goes to show the true horror that refugees and civilians were forced to live through in world war two.

I’d recommend Salt To The Sea to fans of Michael Morpurgo and Sarah Crossan. It will make you laugh and cry (although mostly cry!) with its unique perspective of the horror of World War Two.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Have read this book? Would you try it? Got any recommendations? Let me know in the comments!