Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

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Salt to the Sea is a YA historical fiction that is taking the book community by storm at the moment .Goodreads, Instagram, youtube…everyone seems to be talking about it! So even though you probably already know just how amazing this book is, I’m going to tell you my thoughts on it!

So Salt to the Sea is set in WW2, and is inspired by the little known maritime disaster that was the Wilhelm Gustloff.  This was a German transporter ship that in January 1945 was sunk by a Soviet submarine while evacuating civilians and officials from the approaching Red Army. Roughly 9,500 lives were lost yet there are very few people who know about this disaster – including me!

The book follows four main characters – Joana, Florian, Emilia, and Alfred. They each come from different countries within Europe, but have all been brought together to this ship in East Prussia. The characters are so well developed; even the secondary characters feel totally important to the story! I loved Emilia and Florian’s characters – they were my favourites! – so I was rooting for them to survive from the start! Actually…I was rooting for most of the characters to survive! But given the nature of this time period – and the maritime disaster the book is based on – I knew that not everybody would make it.

Not many books can make me cry but this one did make me sniffle! It was such a beautifully written book full of raw, intense emotion…how could I not get upset by this? Especially with that ending! I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t read the book yet…but wow it’s totally going to kill you! I reread the last ten pages or so a few times, waiting for it to finally sink in! Even now, a few weeks after I finished reading Salt to the Sea I am still thinking about the story and these characters.

Young adult historical fiction is one of my favourite genres, although I will admit I haven’t read a whole lot of it! But I have to say this is my favourite book in this genre so far. It is captivating, hear breaking, and so immersive. Pick this book up and I promise you won’t regret it! This was my first Ruta Sepetys book, but I’ll definitely picking up her others. If they’re anything like this one then I know I’ll love them!

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