Monday, 20 June 2016

Book Review - Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Salt to the SeaSalt to the Sea

Author: Ruta Sepetys

Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction. 

Published: February 4 2016

Pages: 391 pages (Paperback) (Penguin)

Read: May 12 2016 - May 21 2016

Rating: 5 Stars

It's early 1945 and a group of people trek across Germany, bound together by their desperation to reach the ship that can take them away from the war-ravaged land. Four young people, each haunted by their own dark secret, narrate their unforgettable stories. Fans of The Book Thief or Helen Dunmore's The Siege will be totally absorbed.

This inspirational novel is based on a true story from the Second World War. When the German ship the Wilhelm Gustloff was sunk in port in early 1945 it had over 9000 civilian refugees, including children, on board. Nearly all were drowned. Ruta Sepetys, acclaimed author of Between Shades of Grey, brilliantly imagines their story.

Book 18/65 - 2016 Goodreads Reading Challenge

What can I truly say about Salt to the Sea, other than that it left me in a blubbering mess in a heap on the floor. Ruta Sepetys is just amazing when it comes to writing historical fiction novels that are just heartbreaking. After reading her previous two works I just knew that I was going to love this book just as much as I did the others.

One thing I love about Ruta Sepetys is that she picks the topics that are less well known. I studied history all through primary school and then for three years in secondary school and it was a subject that I loved but in all of that time spent learning different facts and stories from history, not once did I ever hear of the tragedy that was the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff. This was the greatest sinking of that time period and not once had I heard about it only when I read the blurb for Salt to the Sea. So of course I let Ruta Sepetys tell me the story.

And what a marvelous storyteller she was. This book had me gripped to each page. I was in an in-between state where I didn't want to put it down and I didn't want to read it for I knew it wasn't going to end well for everyone. That was a given. But I absolutely adored how Ruta Sepetys told this story, through the lives of four very different teenagers who were all going to come together under the horrendous conditions that they were all facing. I loved the fast, short, alternating chapters, I loved how she associated each character with a feeling; guilt, fate, shame, fear. 

I loved how we didn't know everything about each character straight away. I loved how we found out little, impacting pieces about them throughout the whole story, I loved how Ruta Sepetys made these characters so real that it was like they were just sitting beside you. I loved that these characters grew, held and kept a place in my heart even after I finished that last page. I loved that this book made me feel so much. I just loved this book. 

Which you could have probably figured out by the amount of times I used the work love or any of its variations in the above two characters. But going back to a more serious note, this book was like nothing that I've read before. I would rank this book high up on my favourites shelf, right beside The Book Thief by Markus Zusack and I know it will stay there. I know that I'm going to be picking up this book again and again and each time I will feel the exact same feelings as I did the first time because that is just how powerful this book is. It is a definite read for everyone. 

And I honestly can not wait for Ruta Sepetys next book, whatever it will be about, I know I will love it. 

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