“The shoes always tell the story.”
Salt To The Sea by Ruta Sepetys
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.
I have no idea why I did not read this book any earlier. I don’t read a lot of historical fiction most of the time because I’ve always felt there aren’t a lot from a YA perspective which is my preferred POV. So when I heard about this book coming out I knew I wanted to read it just maybe not as a priority; and I can see now that I should have read this much much sooner.
This story is told from four different points of view during World War II. It gave the reader varying opinions and experiences on the dire war surrounding the characters. I feel that Ruta Sepetys really has given World War II the justice it deserves, as it was clear that this book was historically accurate as well as well beautifully written.
Sepetys’ writing was one of the things that first drew me into this book. The first four chapters had what I would call some of the best writing I have ever read in my life. The words pulled you in and didn’t let you go throughout the whole book.
The characters in this book were equally as amazing. The person I would say was the main character would be – Joana. Joana is a Lithuanian nurse with German blood in her family from one side which enables her to be in Germany at the time. Joana’s relationships with all the people in her ‘group’ such as the Shoe Poet; and two other main characters – Florian and Emilia was so real and true you could really feel the love she felt for these people who she hadn’t even known for more than a month.
The last main character Alfred was probably my favourite in the end. What intrigued me the most about him was this mysterious character ‘Hannelore’. He wrote continuous mental letters to this person never disclosing anything about them, and even after you finish the book there is still not much you know about him or Hannelore.
I would say that my only issue with this book was the lack of chapter numbers. I was reading this with a book club and it was very hard to keep track of where we were as chapters were only distinguishable by chapter name.
Overall, I think that this book was one of the most heart – wrenching books I have ever read. I hope to read some of Ruta Sepetys’ other books because this book was an amazing representation of her talent for writing!