- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Philomel Books (2 February 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0399160302
- ISBN-13: 978-0399160301
- Product Dimensions: 14.8 x 3.4 x 21.7 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 499 g
- Customer Reviews: 1,227 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 81,084 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Salt to the Sea Hardcover – 2 February 2016
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"Sepetys's...scene-setting is impeccable; the penetrating cold of the journey is palpable, and she excels at conveying the scope of the losses while giving them a human face....[T]his elegiac tale succeeds with impressive research, affecting characters, and keen, often unsettling insights into humans' counterposed tendencies toward evil and nobility. Readers will be left to discuss which impulse triumphs here." --The Horn Book
About the Author
Ruta Sepetys (www.rutasepetys.com) is an internationally acclaimed, #1 New York Times bestselling author of historical fiction published in over sixty countries and forty languages. Sepetys is considered a "crossover" novelist, as her books are read by both teens and adults worldwide. Her novels Between Shades of Gray, Out of the Easy, and Salt to the Sea have won or been shortlisted for more than forty book prizes, and are included on more than sixty state award lists. Between Shades of Gray was adapted into the film Ashes in the Snow, and her other novels are currently in development for TV and film. Winner of the Carnegie Medal, Ruta is passionate about the power of history and literature to foster global awareness and connectivity. She has presented to NATO, to the European Parliament, in the United States Capitol, and at embassies worldwide. Ruta was born and raised in Michigan and now lives with her family in Nashville, Tennessee. Follow her on Twitter @RutaSepetys and Instagram @RutaSepetysAuthor.
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The characters were so real I'll no doubt be thinking of them for a long time to come, and becuase of them this wasn't just another tragic WW2 story, but a story about strength, survival and friendship.
Suddenly the Titanic doesn't seem so bad, and how is it the world doesn't know about this story? I guess that's WW2 for you...too many disasters to count.
I will be telling everyone to read this. I listened to the audiobook and it was done perfectly.
Everyone has to read Salt to the Sea. And if you are not prepared to cry – then don’t bother reading.
When I started this novel I wasn’t expecting to love it. At first it was really hard grasp because there is 3 protagonists and with the e-arc I had they weren’t on separate pages so when the chapter changed therefor a different perspective it was hard to remember who was who. However, after I had the grasp of the characters this novel was magical.
Salt to the Sea set in 1945 in Germany, tells the journey of protagonists; Joana, Emilia and Florian whos lives cross paths on their way to the ill-fated Wilhelm Gustloff. They are forced to unite. They find strength, courage and trust in both themselves and one another. They are tested even when they think they are safe.
And when they think that they finally have freedom – the worst happens and they have to fight for their lives again with ten thousand other people. There are so many characters in Salt to the Sea and every one of them has a story to tell.
Joana a nurse that had been given a pass into Germany now flees to find her way back home, holds a secret that is tearing her apart inside.
Emilia, a girl in a pink hate holds something that will bring light into the world that was brought by darkness.
Florian an artist with a fever and a shrapnel injury that needs to be fixed holds something deep in his shoe.
I loved all three protagonists. I loved their story, finding out how they got to where they are and where they want to be. They were all written beautifully and their character arcs where really fantastic. The reader is able to see them all grow and become brave and strong.
I loved how the first few chapters started with ---- is a hunter. It was a brilliant way of starting them and then bringing it all together with the last couple of chapters having the same line in it.
I cried during Salt to the Sea. I am not going to lie. Multiple times. It’s a book that centres around war.
The writing though is so beautiful, I was captivating from the first moment. It pulls you in and you cannot stop reading once you start. Each like forms into another and you are finished in the blink of an eye. I haven’t read any of Ruta Sepetys other books but as from now they are on my tbr.
You could tell by the writing and the story that a lot of research went into it. It doesn’t have fact, after fact but people, things that happened even to the littlest detail was based on fact. It was really interesting to someone like me who is a massive history buff and I was picking things here or there or typing them into google. It gave this novel more depth.
Beautiful, captivating, extraordinary. Salt to the Sea is a gorgeous novel that brings to light a catastrophe that seems to be forgotten. With stunning writing and intriguing characters Ruta Sepetys brings a novel that tells a story that everyone needs to read.
Top international reviews
In a near-lyrical style, Sepetys tells the tragic tale of four children fleeing Stalin’s Red Army through Nazi territory, hoping to find salvation on-board an evacuation ship. The story is told from the viewpoints of the four main characters: Joanna, Emilia, Florian and Alfred, each haunted by some concoction of fear, fate, shame and guilt from their past. The characters feel painfully real, brought to life with a string of drip-fed details and subtle interactions. It is how these young souls try to come to terms with and explain the atrocities of an adult world that lend the words their power.
The personalities are as complex as the dark subject matter demands – for example, Alfred, a devout Nazi is easy to mock and hate. It was not until after finishing the book that I remembered his young age and realised that he is simply a lonely and troubled boy swept up by the wave of hatred that devoured much of Europe at the time. While this might not lead to forgiveness, it must surely lend itself to understanding. Aside from this main cast, the supporting characters are just as involving, with the love that develops between Heinz ‘the shoe poet’ and Klaus ‘the wandering boy’ often providing a brief respite from the lingering sense of doom.
The book is split into a series of very short chapters, some stretching to only one line. However, what they lack in length, they each make up for with the strength of their emotional gut-shots, conspiring by the end to leave you feeling pummelled and punch-drunk. The often soft and gentle prose seems almost out of place when describing such bleak scenes and emotions but somehow makes them all the more affecting.
The pacing of the book is very impressive. It starts off slowly and I must admit that having read the superb Carnegie-contenders The Bone Sparrow and The Smell of Other People’s Houses, I initially wondered how it had managed to beat them to the prize. However, as the pages flicked over I realised how effective the book was at evoking the tense monotony and boredom of war, the characters are constantly looking over their shoulders but with little to actually do other than trudge onwards and occasionally avert their eyes from the world’s assorted horrors. That being said, when the final action kicks off, the intensity of it is enough to leave you dizzy (I read the final 100 pages in a single stressful sitting).
Despite being a ‘children’s book’, I cannot think of another text that so matter-of-factly and brutally lays bare the desperation of war. Some of the scenes involving children at the port left me so overwhelmed with disgust I had to stop reading to compose myself (the only other book ever to make me do that is American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis). This is an important story to tell – based on an unbelievably forgotten history of a real-life event – but it is not an easy one to hear.
I love Supetys’ other novels, so I had very high expectations for this one, and it did not disappoint. The characters in this book are all so interesting and complex, that even though there are four different perspectives that change very frequently, I never felt the need to check the chapter headings. Even the secondary characters, some of whom did not have proper names, felt so unique and realistic that your heart ached for them as much as it did for the main characters.
The pacing for this book was definitely faster than Supetys’ other novels and I found myself flying through this book. You feel the urgency the characters do to board this ship and escape the horrific circumstances they have been dealt. I could easily have read this book in a day had I not had other things get in the way.
It is evident that Sepetys did an enormous amount of research for this book which completely paid off. The setting and atmosphere of this book was so bleak, you are instantly transported back to East Prussia in the winter of 1945. You felt the harshness of the winter, the urgency of the people to flee and to seek a better life, the hopelessness of their situation. Throughout the novel you are filled with dread as you are reminded what inspired this book and where it is headed, but that definitely did not take away from the reading experience whatsoever.
My favourite thing about Supetys’ novels is that, even with these bleak and horrific circumstances the characters are in, we still see the goodness of humanity and how the human spirit carries on in even the most dire of situations. I cried for half an hour after reading this book and I know it is one that will stay with me.
I had absolutely no idea about this tragedy before I read this book and was shocked it was not more well known. Even though the characters in this book are fictional, you are reminded that this was a real event in which 9,000 people, over half of which were children, lost their lives in one night. I urge you all to pick this book up and read it, so at last their story can be heard.