Review of Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea is a poignant book I devoured in two sittings. I thought the multiple viewpoints and tiny (2-3 page chapters) would bother me, but instead author Ruta Sepetys handled them masterfully and it kept the pace moving at a clip. It is a tough read emotionally because of the subject matter and the desperate situation of the civilians caught up in WW2, but that historic setting is one of the things that makes it such an important book, of course. We in North America don’t hear enough about the experiences of Eastern Europeans during this period – especially those outside of urban centres – and even as a historian I had never heard of the sinking of the Gustloff, one of the greatest maritime disasters.
I felt my breath catch in my throat a few times, either because of the beauty of the spare writing or the heartbreak the characters endured. I hope everyone will read this. It is powerful example of how everyday people – children, teenagers – get caught up in world events and can become refugees in their quest for survival. But that we can be resilient and find beauty, friendship and love along the way.

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