Salt to the Sea Review // Books

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I’m so, so excited to be getting book reviews up on this site…it’s one of the things I’ve been wanting to do on my blog for several years. As a speed reader, I read up to eight books a month, and I always want to share them with people. I’ve joined a few book clubs with good intentions, but it’s hard to find one where I have enough time to share about all the books I’m reading, or where I can find time to actually attend. I decided to start with this book, since it was recommended to me by another mama blogger (Jessica), and I know every time she recommends a book, it’s usually one that I’ll love. We seem to share a lot of the same tastes as far as books go.

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Ruta Sepetys is a new author for me. I looked up her books, and she writes a lot of historical fiction, typically easy reads aimed at young adult readers. Don’t be fooled by the young adult label though…I’ve found some of my favorite books have been “young adult” books and they seriously hold their own against other, more literary authors. John Green comes to mind, as does a book on my list to read: The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. Since this was my first Sepetys book, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, and I’m fairly picky. Turns out, I loved it. The story centers around four teenagers in 1945, and the events surrounding the Wilhelm Gustloff disaster. I admittedly am no history expert, but I had no real knowledge of this real-life event, and when I researched it after reading this book, I was really surprised by the historical accuracy of the entire book. The novel opens with similar sentiments from each teen, “Guilt is a hunter”, “Shame is a hunter”, “Fear is a hunter”, “Fate is a hunter” (Joana, Florian, Emilia and Alfred) which was a masterful touch, and one of my favorite parts. It really set the scene for this pretty chilling story. Each viewpoint is marked by only a few pages, which got a little confusing in the middle, but ultimately served the story well. I personally prefer longer chunks of each character, generally, but this was done very well. As the story progresses, each teen faces life and death decisions and interacts with one another in surprising ways. I thought it was veering one direction in the middle, and it went a very different way. Even if you know about the Wilhelm Gustloff and the ending, it is still a haunting conclusion.

It also crosses into a bit of a conundrum with it’s deft handling of social issues, including racism, violence, and decisions that people are forced into during wartime, and it was pretty dense for a young adult novel. Another thing I loved was her unique sentence structure. It moved the book at a really fast pace, but was crafted really well.

I’d say if you like authors like Celeste Ng and Yannick Murphy, you’d probably love this. I also think fans of John Green would like this one, simply because of the pace and dialogue similarities (although Green’s books are set in modern times).


Buy it here: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Highlights: Strong writing, historically accurate, quick read

Stars: 4/5


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