Staff Review: "Salt to the Sea"
Inspired by the greatest tragedy in maritime history, four characters from four different European homelands board the Wilhelm Gustloff ship in hopes of surviving World War II. The war has torn apart the lives of Joana and Emilia. Joana, a young nurse from Lithuania, is trying to reunite with her mother. Emilia, a Polish girl, is just trying to survive being driven from her homeland after the persecution of the Polish people from both the Germans and the Russians. Florian, a young East Prussian man, is carrying a grave secret in the sole of his boot that will wreak havoc on Hitler himself. Alfred, a German in Hitler's Youth, is a sailor aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff whose intentions do not seem to be for the better.
Told in short, alternating point-of-view chapters, this book was an excellent look into a great civilian tragedy of World War II that was kept secret; the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff which was carrying over 10,000 refugees, 9,000 whom perished. Sepetys weaves an excellent, heartbreaking story through these four characters. While the beginning of the novel is a little slow, Sepetys proves, once again, to be a great writer of historical fiction for Young Adults.