Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys // A WWII Historical Action Tale

Thursday, 3 March 2016
Salt to the Sea, by Ruta Sepetys
Publication: February 2, 2016, by Philomel Books
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Historical
Pages: 391
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Rating: ½

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:

Sometimes, I agree with other people that books could seriously be remedies. Whether it is a remedy for a broken heart, for a bad day, for a good day, for a snowy day, for a sunny day, I believe that every book contains some kind of magic that could make a person feel great/horrible but still always enjoying it in one way or another. For me, and for the past few years where I have been experiencing Ruta Sepetys' writing, I found that her writing provided me with some kind of happiness/sadness—more of a depressing feeling, but that was ought to happen anyways. Historical fiction novels always seem to hit the heart, but Ruta's writing causes me to become (a) more obsessed, (b) a person with higher expectations and (c) want to become a cover designer. Because damn, THAT COVER IS SPECTACULAR.

"For the first time in years, people cared for me. Protected me. I looked down at Halinka. I could actually feel her. She was mine. I was hers. Her perfect cheeks and fingers were pink, just like my hat. What the knight said was true. She was part of me, my family, and Poland." (301)

Salt to the Sea caused my heart to go on a literal roller coaster ride. We readers get to know four teenagers with four different hometowns/countries, four different secrets and roles that carry out throughout this thrilling novel. Florian, Alfred, Joana and Emilia. My heart goes out to them. As always, Ruta Sepetys somehow causes readers to create a bond with each of this character that extends beyond the actual story and its pages. I still am thinking about the "ever after" of these characters. That must tell you something. Something exquisite. Something marvellous. Something that a positive adjective can describe. As always, Ruta's words combine with her dramatic settings and message, throwing in a great read for any reader. 

I have always been a fan of World War Two action novels that are simply YA. I like the emotions and romance, and one of those stories that seems so real that readers feel like the author must have heard the story somewhere and wrote it down. Those experiences can make a girl feel so happy. When I heard that the author was releasing a new book after the astonishing Between the Shades of Gray, I became more obsessed than I ever had been to get my hands on this story. Each character is somehow placed into each other's lives and the magic has really spun to create something memorable.

"Fate is a hunter. Its barrel pressed against my forehead." (347)

The only thing I could complain about is the plot. I loved the idea of creating a story that provided readers an action story that is taking place in a time era that had so many mixes of situations that affected everyone differently. This was an utterly long novel, and I wish more came out of the middle portion where I was bored. For a wartime novel where things go boom, boom, boom quickly, I certainly was surprised, though this had not caused my reading experience to be horrible in any way whatsoever.

Get ready for the ships. And by ships, I literally mean actual boats and relationships. The four teenagers who are mentioned here actually all do have their own special quirk that made me love each of them separately for separate reasons. My favourite character, you ask? Alfred. DUH. You'll see why, my friends.

Salt to the Sea is a book for any lover of any genre. There are real historical facts in the story that made me want to head on to the internet and read for hours about what Ruta wrote about. Although slow at times, the characters and setting picked it up and made it a beautiful experience. If you do not know much about the war, read this. If you know tons, still read it. Anyone could find a part they adore.

*A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much!*

Do you think YA-historical books have the ability to become a great movie? What have you heard about Ruta's books?


  1. I SO WANT TO PICK THIS UP! I love WWII ya novels, I think they're oddly enough one of my most popular genres.

    1. Wooo! Then I promise you, this is the perfect read for you! I hope you do pick it up because I definitely recommend it! :D


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