Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys is about 4 teenager longing for a passage aboard on the Wilhelm Gustloff at the end of World War II. All with their own story, motivations, and struggles. The book follows the nurse Joana, the knight Florian, Polish girl Emilia and sailor Alfred.
First of all, I want to say that this book is absolutely beautiful. It touched me deeply because of the amazing characters and also because I was not aware of that catastrophe describe in this book. While I enjoyed reading this book, I also learned something about history and World War II. That period in history is, in my opinion, fascinating to read about.
The five main characters were very well developed. As the story continues, I learned more and more about the characters and where they came from. In the beginning I was mostly left in the dark, I knew nothing about them. After a while, I felt connected to most characters, because they felt real to me. Throughout the story, the characters start to open up to each other and they start to change. The only exception is Alfred because he is fooling himself. So, only at the very end, I learned something about his background.
Next to our main characters, the book has some amazing side characters. Of course, I did not learn as much about them as I wanted. But they were kind and loveable.
The relationships between the characters showed that even in the darkest times of World War II, there is something to live for and that there is hope. This touched me deeply. Ruta Sepetys did not hold back on some gruesome details of the war, which made the book more realistic, in my opinion.
Overall, I found this a wonderful read. I would recommend this to anyone who likes historical fiction or who is interested in World War II. I give this book 4.5 stars