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Salt to the Sea

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February 09, 2016  
 
4.3 (3)
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Salt to the Sea

Info

Publish Date:
ISBN:
9780399160301
Pages:
400pp
Reading Age:
Award Year:
Available As Kindle Book
Yes
Available On Overdrive
Yes
Featured Date
April 04, 2016
Book Group:
Yes
Bookgroup Date
October 25, 2017
Check Availability

Overview

For readers of Between Shades of Gray and All the Light We Cannot See, international bestselling author Ruta Sepetys returns to WWII in this epic novel that shines a light on one of the war's most devastating—yet unknown—tragedies.

World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in one another tested with each step closer toward safety.

Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.

Told in alternating points of view, and perfect for fans of Anthony Doerr's Pulitzer Prize-winning All the Light We Cannot See, Erik Larson's #1 NYT bestseller Dead Wake, and Elizabeth Wein's Printz Honor Book Code Name Verity, this masterful work of historical fiction is inspired by the real-life tragedy that was the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff—the greatest maritime disaster in history. As she did in Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys unearths a shockingly little-known casualty of a gruesome war, and proves that humanity can prevail, even in the darkest of hours.

User reviews

3 reviews

Overall rating 
 
4.3
Story held my interest 
 
4.3  (3)
Writing style 
 
4.2  (3)
Characters 
 
4.5  (3)
Ratings (the higher the better)
Story held my interest
Writing style
Characters
User Review
Discuss the setting and the role it played. Describe when and where the story takes place.
Who are the main characters? What problems or conflicts does each character face in the book? Briefly describe each character.
What are the good points of this book? What did the author do well? Tell why you liked the book.
What, if any, were the bad points in the book? What did you feel the author did poorly? Tell why you didn't like the book.
This is where you give a brief summary of the book. Tell about at least two events that took place in the story. Don't give away the ending but give a 20 second synopsis that describes the story.
Without giving away the ending tell whether or not the ending was satisfying. Did the end fit the story?
Overall rating 
 
4.2
Story held my interest 
 
4.0
Writing style 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.5

User Review

Setting
Salt to the Sea takes place in Europe in the year 1945. The war between Germany and Russia is just ending which is causing conflict in neighboring areas. This novel also takes place on the Wilhelm Gustloff which is a ship that is supposed to bring the refugees to safety. The setting plays a very big role in the novel, the main characters meet on the ship and the conditions affect them and the way they interact with one another. The setting is a very big part of all four of these teens lives.
Characters
Sepetys does a great job of developing all of the characters but Joana and Florian were the best developed in my opinion. Joana is a nurse from Lithuania and Florian is a Prussian art conservationist. Sepetys did a spectacular job of making the reader curious about the secrets the refugees carry. For example Joana carries a mysterious guilt and Florian carries an item that could lead to death if it was discovered. These secrets that Sepetys carries makes the characters seem more real. Sepetys did a good job of making these two characters strong and unique even though they were experiencing the same things that the others did. They had a brokenness about them that was so interesting and lifelike.
Good Points
Salt to the Sea is written from the point of view of the characters; Joana, Florian, Emilia and Alfred. I like that the novel is written from their point of view, it allows the reader to become attached to the characters and get to know them on what seems like a personal level. I also feel that this novel is based on their life and experiences so they should be the ones to tell their story. Sepetys did a great job of developing the characters individually and as a group. However, I did not like that Sepetys did not set up a clear plot, there was very little for a plot. Sepetys could have done a better job of building up to the climax or building the suspense. Although, there was not a lot for a plot it was very easy to stay engaged. Most of the novel was spent exploring the characters backgrounds which I think Sepetys did a great job on.
Plot Summary
In Ruta Sepetys novel Salt to the Sea a group of refugees meet on the road out in East Prussia in the middle of winter. They like many others are fleeing the country due to the Nazi Reign that is collapsing all around them. The story is told from three different teens, one from Prussia, one from Lithuania and the other from Poland. These four teens are from different homelands and backgrounds but they are all facing the same tragedy due to war. When they’re all forced to leave their homes and get on the Wilhelm Gustloff , a ship that promises safety. Their path cross leading to friendships that can withstand any horror that they experience.
Ending

The end of Salt to the Sea was very sad. It was satisfying and did fit the novel very well, the whole book leads the reader to the ending that Sepetys provided. The readers fall in love with the characters which makes the inevitable ending that much harder to swallow. Sepetys showed the readers a inspiring and terrifying into one of the great unknowns of World War two. Even though the end of this novel is very sad, it is a great read full of suspense that keeps you guessing and historical fiction that makes you grateful for the world we have today.
Do you recommend this book?
Yes
Language
PG-13
Sexual Content
PG
Violence
PG-13
Drug and Alcohol Use
PG-13
Overall rating 
 
4.5
Story held my interest 
 
4.5
Writing style 
 
4.5
Characters 
 
4.5

Salt to the Sea

User Review

Setting
This book is set in Prussia in the winter, so the temperatures are incredibly cold, and chances of survival are low. Everyone is fleeing the Russians, because they are aiming to kill anyone who they see. Germany has finally told everyone to basically run for their lives, so it is just a battlefield in extremely frigid temperatures. This setting creates many complications with survival, and with escaping.
Characters
Sepetys created a very complex character with one of the main characters, Florian. Florian has a very complex past and he lets that affect every action he makes. Florian shows his very tough side when she has him attempt to leave Emilia so many times, but she also lets readers know why he is that way. Since he has a revenge mission, he does not want anyone getting in the way of what he feels he needs to do. Developing Florian from a young innocent boy who was taken advantage of, to a tough man who wants revenge was a very difficult idea to develop so that was really well done. After that, Sepetys has Florian change to a softer man, all thanks to Emilia. Emilia calls Florian her knight, and he really becomes that by the end of the book. He was a very believable character, with real feeling and Sepetys developed him very well. Another well-developed character that was more minor was the “shoe poet”. This man travels with their group and he is known to be able to deduct a great deal of information about a person, just by looking at their shoes. Sepetys develops him to be a very soft and loving character, even in the hard times, and even when facing hard decisions. He is a lovely contrast to Florian because he cares about everyone from the very beginning, and she lets that feeling really come through in her writing
Good Points
Sepetys was very good at creating a setting and developing characters in this book. She made a very believable story and she really demonstrated to the reader real feelings of the war. Another really good thing that Sepetys did was to know all of her information. There are multiple pages of sources in the back of the book which showed that the author had really done her research. She created a very realistic and informative story which I really appreciated. Sepetys tells this story from four different points of view, so the structure is really unique in that each chapter switches points of view. There are four main characters telling the story, and three of those characters are together for most of the book, so the reader sees the same event from multiple points of view. The fourth character then, created some contrast. It was very well done.
Bad Points
One bad point was just the heaviness of the book. Although Sepetys did a very good job at creating a realistic story, it was very heavy. It stirs a lot of real emotion and it could be hard for some people to get through. Some people may see that as one bad point of this author’s writing. I, however, think that this is not necessarily a bad thing because the point of the book was to convey that real, emotional story.

Plot Summary
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys, is a book that talks about World War II from the unique perspective of four different teenagers. Each teenager has come from a totally different situation, and each one has their own secret that they do not want others to find out. They do not start out together, but they all end up in the same place. Emilia and Florian meet first and begin traveling together, after Florian saves Emilia. They eventually meet up with another group and they stay together. Each teenager has their own unique view on the war, and their own problems they have to get through to survive. This story shows the war from the heartbreaking view of young and impressionable minds, which makes it very enticing.

Ending
The ending of this story was satisfying to a point. It was very sad, but again, it was realistic. This ending was very good for what the story was, and it did not leave questions unanswered. What I got out of this book is that war is so much harder than we can ever imagine. I cannot ever imagine what it would be like to be forced to leave everything I had-my home, family, friends, and belongings-to flee for my life, and I think that is what the author was trying to convey. I think she wanted to show what it was like for everyone, and in particular, teenagers, which makes it much more relatable, and in turn shows what it really was like on a deeper level. I know I still cannot imagine what war would be like, but because of this book I can understand it a little bit better.
Do you recommend this book?
Yes
Language
PG
Sexual Content
PG
Violence
PG
Drug and Alcohol Use
G
Overall rating 
 
4.3
Story held my interest 
 
4.5
Writing style 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.5

Salt to the Sea

User Review

Setting
The novel takes place in 1945 World War II Eastern Europe, specifically in between Germany and Russia. This is significant because Germany and Russia had one of the most violent conflicts in World War II, causing terrible fates to the innocent people in those areas. Because of the characters’ location, and being that they were there during World War II, they go through a lot of violent scenes and areas that are described in detail by Sepetys.
Characters
Alfred, one of the main characters in the book, is a complex character that hides much from his peers. Sepetys introduces him in a way that gives the reader the information they need to really understand who Alfred is; a young man with a big dream, but lots of secrets. Alfred, being a German soldier himself aboard the Gustloff ship, has a deep hatred for the Communists and is not afraid to say it to anybody. Sepetys does very well in describing and developing Florian, a young Prussian with big art ambitions. Throughout the book, Florian, along with all the other main characters, keeps a secret that would change the way the others view him. Because of this, Florian becomes a very secretive character, at times seeming very suspect to the other refugees.
Good Points
I believe that the best part of this book was the historical information. Although the book is primarily built around thrilling and exciting scenes of adrenaline, a lot can be learned from the book about World War II. Seeing the origins of each of the main characters, from Florian’s Prussian beginning to Joana’s Lithuanian experiences, helps to understand what life was like back in World War II, and Sepetys does an excellent job in describing all of that. Additionally, Sepetys did an excellent job in writing the book by switching narratives between the main characters. There was a lot of drama and suspense in the way Sepetys described scenes throughout the book and it gave that feeling of uncertainty in terms of what would come next.
Plot Summary
Ruta Sepetys’ Salt to the Sea is historical fiction novel that tells a story about a World War II event that went almost unnoticed in history. Four teens from different cities caught between the conflict of Germany and Prussia come together as refugees in search of a way out. Though complete strangers in the beginning, the four of them form a strong friendship that helps make their terrible situation a little bit easier. Through many events of narrow escape and clever lies, the refugees attempt to beat the odds and achieve their goal of boarding the ill-fated Wilhelm Gustloff ship.
Ending
The ending of the book was very well written and very eye opening. Though not what the reader expects, it is a scene that does a good job of closing the book and leaving no room for questions. Sepetys used this ending to conclude the overall story she was trying to tell of refugees during World War II who were trying to escape. The book was written to tell the story of four refugees and their journey together to freedom and a new life, and I believe that Sepetys did an excellent job with it.
Do you recommend this book?
Yes
Language
PG-13
Sexual Content
PG
Violence
PG-13
Drug and Alcohol Use
PG-13
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