Salt to the Sea (Ruta Sepetys, 2016)

salt to the sea

Why did you choose this book?

It was on my TBR list to begin with, but my officemate read it and RAVED about it.  He said he couldn’t put it down, he cried five times, and it was amazing in so many ways.  With a recommendation like that, and an ARC in my hand, how could I not read it?

What’s it about?

This story is told in 4 points of view.  Joana is a nurse fleeing Germany, Florian is on the run from Nazi officials, Emilia is a young pregnant Pole, and Alfred is a Nazi sailor.  All four end up evacuating Germany on the Wilhelm Gustloff, a cruise ship loaded with 10,000 refugees and soldiers.  The ship was torpedoed and sunk, with around 9,400 passengers perishing.  It remains the largest maritime loss of life in history.


Teen, disaster reads, mulitple POVs

Other recommended reads?

It depends why you’re reading this book.  If you like World War II fiction, try Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale.  If you like reading about maritime disasters like Titanic, try Erik Larson’s Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania.  Both were among the best books I read last year, with Dead Wake being the absolute best nonfiction I picked up.


I wanted to love everything about this book like my officemate did.  I thought Joana and Florian were too perfectly heroic and Emilia and Alfred were too flawed and annoying.  I loved learning more about the disaster but I wanted more information.  My coworkers bemoaned the loss of a good premise on a teen book.  I don’t agree with that – I think teen books can be just as amazing as their adult counterparts, but I do wish the author had treated it with more detail, respect, and research.  It is a great premise that just needed a bit more oomph, for lack of a better word.  I wanted to cry but couldn’t summon a single tear.  It fits into the category of good reads, but not great.  But can we talk about that cover art???? Gorgeous!

Up next?

Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard


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