Emotionally Wrecking // Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Emotionally Wrecking // Salt to the Sea by Ruta SepetysSalt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Published by Philomel Books on February 2nd, 2016
Genres: Historical, Young Adult
Pages: 391
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon

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.

My Thoughts:

I first came across Salt to the Sea while at the SE-YA festival in March. Ms. Sepetys was there, and while I didn’t get a chance to meet her, or buy one of her books, there were a lot of people standing around talking about them. There were many other times this book kept popping up everywhere but when it was picked as the Book of the Month for May for a book club I’m in, it was A SIGN.

I wish I would have read it sooner!

I’m not one to often suffer such great emotional turmoil from a book, however. This book left me hollowed out. Gutted. Utterly breathless. I’m still sitting here feeling… I don’t know what I’m feeling, but when I think about this book, weeks after finishing, I still get teary eyed.

What saddens me the most, was how much I did NOT know about this maritime tragedy and how many others I’ve asked don’t know about it, too. It’s HUGE.  I’m struggling to understand the sheer lack of knowledge on it. Of course, after finishing I took to the good ol World Wide Web and did find quite a bit of information, but nothing in the amount of research that Ms. Sepetys did for the book. It wasn’t just the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, there were many historical moments mentioned that happened during the war and this time period. These things are so hard for me to read, but it was Ms. Sepetys writing that made it worthwhile. I mean, I knew how things were going to go. There’s this dark cloud hanging over you while reading that is an omen for bad things to come. But within all that is hope too, and love.

We get the story told from 4 different characters view. Each character has their own story. Their own journey. Their own secrets. It was fascinating how each story slowly wove itself together until the end. You wouldn’t think with so many different POV and short chapters I would have had such a connection to their story, but I did. We don’t learn everything there is to know about each character. Rather, there is much left out. But that didn’t stop me from being wholly invested and devastated by the outcome(s) of some of the characters.

All in all – I loved it! It’s emotionally wrecking but well worth it. Seriously, READ THIS BOOK. It’s my favorite book read this month (May) and one of my favorite books read of all time.




Tell me your thoughts

  • Have you read SALT TO THE SEA? If so, what did you think? If not, does it sound like something you’d enjoy?
  • Are there other books set during WWII that you recommend?

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7 thoughts on “Emotionally Wrecking // Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

  1. Valerie

    THIS BOOK TORE OUT MY HEART. I also didn’t know about the event as well, which is weird because it seems to be such a huge thing! I guess this just tells us how much we really don’t know about WWII, and how much more can be explored in books!

  2. Nick

    I’m so happy you loved this one too. It’s my favorite book of the year which surprised me because I’m not one for emotional reads like this one, but wow!
    I was so angry that I didn’t know about this tragedy and that it’s been kept under the wraps. It makes me sad, because these victim deserve to be remembered.
    You should try this one on audiobook, by the way. It’s fantastic because the narrators are perfect.

    1. tonyalee

      Wendy said the same thing! But I don’t think I could handle it on audio. I’m actually surprised that I as able to finish this one at all!

      Yeah I was really surprised by how much I didn’t know, and how much others didn’t know about it either.

  3. Bemusedbookworm@gmail.com

    Ahhh, this book sounds great! For WWII fiction, i’d recommend Prisoner of Night & Fog. There is also a book 2 in the series. Ive not read them yet myself, but hear good things.

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