Historical fiction about World War II.
Each character’s perspective written in first person.
Salt to the Sea, the novel by Ruta Sepetys proves to be one of the most beautiful historical fiction novels, with a good combination of action, real historical occurrences, and interesting and diverse characters. The story follows four
teenagers, Joana, Alfred, Emilia, and Florian, who each face problems on where they come from and where they can escape to. A winner of multiple prestigious awards including being An International Bestseller, A Carnegie Medal Nominee, and a #1 New York Times Bestseller, this book is as compelling as it is gorgeous.
The genre is historical fiction with a focus on young adult literature, but it clearly is complex enough for adults to read as well. There is a fair amount of violence because of the subject matter, but nothing is described in graphic detail. The author covers the various sides of the story of World War II, with some characters being escaped Germans, Polish refugees, or even those actually fighting in the war. Being able to cover these broad topics is a talent, which I admire the author for.
The multiple perspectives are, despite my usual opinion on them, productive in this novel. Because of the multiple characters with different backgrounds, the perspectives are all written in different voices. The hints of their cultures are included and make the characters seem real. A few perspectives seem unnecessary
until the very end of the book, but there has to be at least one perspective that happens to be unlikable. This book will get your heart pounding as you read through, because the author does an amazing job of drawing in the reader and making them feel as if they are living in the story too.
Of course, this being a historical fiction about a war, violence is expected. There are guns and many deaths of various people, even suicide, so I personally do not recommend this for those who are disturbed by this content. Nothing is described in gory detail, but you are aware of what happens throughout and how the characters handle the grief they are faced with. Sepetys, at the end, places a four page source list with who the characters are based upon, the locations and events they face, and the organizations that she contacted to help her make sure her main historical events were accurate.
This one was lengthy, but completely worth the read. The inclusion of characters with real experiences from World War II draws in the reader, and the heart-wrenching descriptions of who each person on the cast is highly impact anyone who decides to read through. I would love to reread this book again when I get a chance, and it is a rare occasion that I want to reread something directly after I finish it. Other books by Ruta Sepetys include Between Shades of Gray and Out of the Easy, with Salt to the Sea being her most recent. I understand why this book won the many titles it did, and I recommend this to all who are interested in history or in real stories of people.
This book can be purchased online here.
For my last book review, read When You Reach Me.
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