Ruta Sepetys is brilliant. I honestly do not know what else to say. This book was everything you want it to be and more. It is gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, intense, and emotional. I went in with the same expectations that I have with most historical fiction books about WWII: It is going to be a love story set in the worst war in history.
Salt to the Sea does have a small love story within it, but it mostly a love story with one’s country, with one’s family, and with one’s identity. This book takes a part of WWII history that most people do not know about or pay attention to and teaches you the true meaning of war-torn.
This book follows 4 characters: 1 soldier and 3 refugees. Their lives entangle as they all seek refuge on the Wilhelm Gustloff, a cruiseliner-turned-warship. This journey takes time, takes lives, and takes humanity along with it.
You never feels as if the plot drags or slips, and the characters each ring true to their own identities. Sepetys takes her time building to the epicenter, but it is riddles with twists and turns that allow you to stay engulfed in the lives of these refugees and soldiers.
This book is worth every minute spent reading it. The lives of these individuals might be fictional, but they ring true to the event in question and show the horrors and tragedy that war brings.