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Salt to the Sea Hardcover – February 2, 2016

4.7 out of 5 stars 1,810 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up—With the same lyrical prose, eye for detail, and breath-stopping ability to unfold delicate layers of characterization and theme with skillfully paced revelations, the author of Between Shades of Gray (2011) and Out of the Easy (2013, both Philomel) presents a fictionalized World War II story based on a true tragedy. In alternating narratives, four different teens grapple with the bitter cold, the ever-present danger of falling bombs, and their own dark secrets. There's Joana, a pretty and empathetic Lithuanian nurse who harbors a heavy guilt; Florian, a mysterious young man struggling to hide his true identity; Amelia, a pregnant Polish girl; and Alfred, a sociopathic Nazi sailor with an inferiority complex. Along with a fully realized cast of secondary characters who comprise the small band of refugees slowly making their way through the frozen and battle-scarred Prussian countryside, Joana, Florian, and Amelia are determined to get aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a German military ship evacuating civilians and wounded soldiers at the tail end of the war. Alfred, meanwhile, a low-ranking officer stationed aboard the ship, avoids work by hiding in the toilets, composing imaginary and boastful letters to a girl back home. Each voice is distinct, and Sepetys unwinds their individual backstories slowly and with care. As the relationships among the refugees strengthen and they begin to trust one another, vulnerabilities are revealed—some of them life-threatening. Observations of war and loss, human cruelty, and hatred are unflinching. But through the horror and heartbreak shine rays of hope: love, kindness, courage, and sacrifice. VERDICT Artfully told and sensitively crafted, Sepetys's exploration of this little-known piece of history will leave readers weeping.—Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal

Review

Praise for Salt to the Sea:

"Ruta Sepetys is a master of historical fiction. In Salt to the Sea the hard truths of her herculean research are tempered with effortless, intimate storytelling, as her warm and human characters breathe new life into one of the world's most terrible and neglected tragedies." —Elizabeth Wein, New York Times bestselling author of Printz Award Honor Book Code Name Verity

“A rich, page-turning story that brings to vivid life a terrifying—and little-known—moment in World War II history.” —Steve Sheinkin, author of Newbery Honor and National Book Award finalist Bomb
 
"Brutal. Beautiful. Honest." —Sabaa Tahir, New York Times bestselling author of An Ember in the Ashes
 
* "Sepetys excels in shining light on lost chapters of history, and this visceral novel proves a memorable testament to strength and resilience in the face of war and cruelty." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
  
* "This haunting gem of a novel begs to be remembered, and in turn, it tries to remember the thousands of real people its fictional characters represent. What it asks of us is that their memories, and their stories, not be abandoned to the sea." Booklist, starred review
 
* "Artfully told and sensitively crafted, Sepetys’s exploration of this little-known piece of history will leave readers weeping." School Library Journal, starred review

"The inevitability of the ending (including the loss of several characters) doesn't change its poignancy, and the short chapters and slowly revealed back stories for each character guarantee the pages keep turning. Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful." —Kirkus
 
"This book includes all the reasons why teens read:  for knowledge, for romance, for amazing and irritating characters.  This novel will break readers’ hearts and then put them back together a little more whole." —VOYA

"Sepetys’s...scene-setting is impeccable; the penetrating cold of the journey is palpable, and she excels at conveying the scope of the losses while giving them a human face....[T]his elegiac tale succeeds with impressive research, affecting characters, and keen, often unsettling insights into humans’ counterposed tendencies toward evil and nobility. Readers will be left to discuss which impulse triumphs here." —The Horn Book

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful YA historical fiction
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4.0 out of 5 stars Did not disappoint
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5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully written account of a truly tragic event
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, interesting characters which are explained in chapters ...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Deserved winner of the Carnegie medal
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4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Book
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic story, engaging and informative on a much forgotten ...
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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging story
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4.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic book!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Umm....can't think of a tiltle
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 24, 2017
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5.0 out of 5 stars Quick dispatch
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