Salt to the Sea is the story of survival in the midst of unfathomable tragedy. The year is 1945 and a group of miserable souls are heading the same way – far away from war. One by one, secrets and backgrounds are revealed but they can’t afford to become attached. When Hitler gives permission to evacuate, it seems like all of Germany is running towards the same harbour. The group must stick together and trust each-other, if they are ever going to reach a land of peace.
This review can be recapped in a single sentence: I freaking loved it! Sorry if I just spoiled it for you but I can’t remember the last time I loved a book this much, that fast.
The writing was a big surprise for me. I thought, since it’s historical fiction, that the writing style would be heavy and dense. On the contrary, Sepetys somehow managed to write a story so brilliant and horrible in such a simple way. The story itself could have carried me through bible thin pages with no air or spacing but it was a delight to read an important, historical story that was written almost like a contemporary.
The characters are everything. Sepetys managed to write characters I was happy to sacrifice my sleep for. I just HAD to know what would happen to my people! You get the POV from four different people – all with their own agenda – and it adds a lot to the story. Joana, a Lithuanian nurse, has a dark secret. Florian, an art restorer, is carrying more than his life. Emilia, a Polish teenager, has re-written her own story. Alfred, a dedicated German soldier, has less courage than a mouse. Besides the intriguing main characters, we get to know a full cast of side-characters full of charms and wickedness. Altogether, the characters are what makes this story so incredibly fascinating.
The settings meant a lot for the atmosphere. We’re along for the ride in 1945 when Hitler’s reign is falling. It’s hard on the soul to experience such a vivid and detailed account of horror. Desperate people starving, freezing, going insane.. it’s definitely not a book for the weak-hearted.
However, even though the book is quite harsh, it’s also filled with hope and people sacrificing everything for their loved ones. Sepetys has created the characters, sure, but suffering was the reality for millions of people at the time. Salt to the Sea is an important story with a huge impact and I recommend it to anyone who’s strong enough to handle the truth.
Flip the Box for Trigger Warnings
– War & rape
– Famine & death
– Mental health
Page count: 393
Goodreads rating: 4.3/5
I hope you enjoyed this review.
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