11 December 2018

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys - Book Review

Salt to the Sea is a historical fiction novel on WWII - my favourite kind. It's a unique book in short chapters about the journey of a group of European refugees on a journey to embark the Wilheim Gustloff, a German transport ship aiming to save thousands refugees. Joana, a Lithuanian nurse, Emilia, a Polish girl and Florian, a German soldier are forced by circumstance to unite and find strength, courage and trust in each other during the arduous journey. 
I enjoyed the author's descriptions of the group of refugees while moving towards the ship. One of my favourite characters was the 'shoe poet' to Joana and 'Omi' to young Klaus, an old man and shoemaker who thinks you can tell any person's life story by looking at their shoes and who repairs ordinary people and soldiers' shoes at checkpoints to be able to pass. I also liked , a blind girl with a great sense of intuition and hence of danger and safety, and Eva, a strong and stern woman that directs the group movements. 

I always find migration stories fascinating and the group's walk in Central Europe from a cold, abandoned castle to the snowy forests and over an ice lake was beautiful. It was also interesting to read about a migration story from WWII as opposed to these days, since we hear so much about today's migration movements that sometimes we forget migration has been a constant phenomenon in world history. 

Though Salt to the Sea is a beautiful read, it's also a very dark one, especially towards the second and final part of the book. This is worth mentioning as I, for instance, was taken by surprise and might have not chosen to read it knowing how intense some parts were. Despite that, it's a young adult book and therefore definitely not unbearable.

I recommend this book if you want to know more about the situation of the Reich and art, and Prussia, which I have rarely found in WWII fictional books, and the Wilheim Gustloff episode. And of course, if you love WWII fiction like me. 

My edition: Ruta Sepetys, 2016. Salt to the Sea. Puffin. 393 pages.

If you liked this book, you might like:
Blankman, Anne. Prisoner of Night and Fog.
Blankman, Anne. Conspiracy of Blood and Fire. Doerr, Anthony. All The Light We Cannot See.

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