Tuesday, April 19, 2016

"Salt to the Sea" by Ruta Sepetys

Image via amazon
I picked this book up after I saw it land on the New York Times Best Seller List. 

Summary:  The Red Army is advancing upon Germany, brutalizing anyone in their path.  The Nazi's have ordered citizens to remain in place.  Those who are caught disobeying orders are shipped off to work camps or killed.  It's a brutally cold and lean winter.  And you're a young adult on your own, hoping to make it to the coast and the ships that could bring you to safety...if the rumors are true.  Told in alternating points of view, "Salt to the Sea" is the story of four young adults desperate to find safety in the unforgiving German countryside.  As their paths cross, the young adults reluctantly band together, using each others strengths to and weaknesses to gain advantage and reach a ship that will take them out of harms way. 

My Thoughts:  "Salt to the Sea" is one of those books that I think about long after I've turned the last page.  While I hold a degree in History, World War II has never been an event on which I've spent much time.  Battles and politics don't interest me, and that's the gist of most lower education courses.  What "Salt to the Sea" did differently, and what captured my attention so soundly, was the focus on the people effected by the war; specifically, those that would be left behind by those fighting: children, teens, the impaired and elderly. 

To steal a term from the targeted demographic: this book gave me all the feels.  At times I found "Salt to the Sea" so bone chilling I had to put the book down.  The idea of children and young people left on their own in situations where death is near certain made me feel  angry, helpless and unsettled.  I wanted to know where the parents were, why the children were alone, and why someone didn't step in to protect them.  However, when the story felt most bleak and all hope seemed dash, the bright glimmer of hope was woven through the fear and sadness.  The combined goal of survival and sudden loyalty among the main characters lends a lighter touch to a dark story.  I enjoyed watching the characters open their hearts to one another as they built their own family from the wreckage around them. 

Overall, I thought "Salt to the Sea" was wonderfully written.  The action was fast paced, which felt appropriate for the story and the events unfolding.  The alternating view points of the four main characters flowed together masterfully - it was easy to keep track of the characters and their back stories and different view points added layers of  emotion to the overall plot.  Finally, although "Salt to the Sea" is a work of fiction, the authors passion for telling an honest story was well done.  I imagine any of the plot points could--and probably did--happen. 

Rating:  I'll reread this one over and over again.  Please note, there are some triggers in this book, as well as imagery some parents will not find acceptable for their children. 

Also Read:  Nothing yet, but the Author's other works are now on my TBR list. 

Reviewed By:  Tami

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