Salt to the Sea, by Ruta Sepetys

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Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.

Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.

As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.

Yet not all promises can be kept.

Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope.

“The sinking of the Gustloff is the largest maritime disaster, yet the world still knows nothing of it. I often wonder, will that ever change or will it remain just another secret swallowed by war?” – page 178.

I loved Salt to the Sea. The true events in this historical fiction is sadly a forgotten part of history. I am glad that Ruta wrote this novel so that people will know about the disaster and over 9,000 lives lost (5,000 were children) when the Wilhelm Gustloff sank. I love what she said in her author’s note at the end (which I encourage any reader to read before starting the story),

“When the survivors are gone we must not let the truth disappear with them. Please give them a voice.”

The multiple character POVs was well done. We got to see the war and people’s experiences through different eyes. I loved the evolution of the characters’ secrets. The introductions were brilliantly done to set the tone: Guilt/fate/shame/fear is a hunter.

The Wilhelm Gustloff sunk in under an hour and so the suspense during the sinking was fast and intense.

I am going to get into some spoilers below. You’ve been warned.

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My Imaginary Book Con Itinerary.

This Saturday is Book Con, but it is in Chicago. I wish they would rotate cities throughout the year. May can be New York City’s month. I hope it’s back in NYC next year.

Also, as my luck would have it, the year I can’t attend is the same year a few of my favorite authors will be there. That just made me make a mock schedule of my imaginary day at Book Con:

8:00 AM -10:00 AM – Queue up for wristbands in the Autographing Area.
Definitely get wristbands for Pierce Brown and Nicola Yoon. After I have those try for Scott Sigler and David Levithan.

11:15 AM – 12:15 PM – Unwritten: Stories You Haven’t Read (Yet)

Authors write more stories than they ever get published… and even more remain in their heads, unwritten. How do Authors choose one idea from the many? What makes a story worth telling, and what deserves to be cut? Learn this and more from bestselling Authors Pierce Brown (The Red Rising Trilogy), Justin Cronin (The Passage Trilogy), Naomi Novik (Temeraire series, Uprooted) and Scott Sigler (The Generations Trilogy). Moderated by editor at Del Rey Books, Michael Braff.

Speakers:
Justin Cronin, Scott Sigler, Pierce Brown, Naomi Novik, Michael Braff.

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