Winter, 1945, East Prussia. Thousands of homeless and
displaced refugees, fleeing on foot trying to survive and
find freedom. World War II is winding down, the Russian Army
is advancing. The highway is for the military, and if you
are caught on the highway, you are considered a deserter.
Joanna, a Lithuanian nurse, Emilia, a 15-year-old polish
girl who is pregnant after being raped by Russian soldiers;
Florian, a German with special secret papers and his own
secret mission; are part of a ragtag group heading to the
Baltic Sea. There they hope to board a ship that will take
them to safety. A six-year-old boy traveling alone and a
shoemaker join their group. Slowly you learn the secrets
held and the back stories of the leading characters.
this journey, you will see the depths of depravity that will
shock you and break your heart. Sometimes, incredible
kindnesses happen. You will be rooting for them until the
ending which is bittersweet, and you will revisit and think
about long after the last page. Ruta Sepetys tells this
story brilliantly. Each chapter is short and told by one of
four characters: Emilia, Joanna Florian, and Alfred, a Nazi
that the group meets aboard ship. He is hateful, delusional,
writes letters in his mind and is a loser that is easy to
hate. I enjoyed this format and found it easy to keep up
with the characters and the ongoing, always twisting plot.
As an avid reader of historical events, I was surprised to
have never heard of Operation Hannibal aboard the huge ship
SALT TO THE SEA is an epic historical fiction. A masterly
crafted piece of history that is well researched and tells a
story about a little-known piece of World War II history.
A haunting, heartbreaking but hopeful story of four young
people, each with a secret and a dream. It is also a story
about the greatest, forgotten tragedy in maritime history
and one not spoken about in Germany, or Russia. 9,000 were
killed when a Russian submarine sent three torpedoes into
the Wilhelm Gustloff, sinking it in less than an hour.
5,000 were children. It is a read that should be experienced
and shared. I give it five stars and thought it was one of
my best reads of this year. Bravo, Ms. Sepetys.
Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted,
and haunted, by tragedy, lies, war. As thousands
desperately 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. But not all promises can be kept . . .
This paperback edition includes book club questions and
exclusive interviews with Wilhelm Gustloff survivors and