Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

salt to the seaTJ Burns — May 15th, 2016


I try not to read the book description (if I can help it), so I had no idea about the content of this book until I started reading. My thoughts after 3% were: oh, no. Not another WW2 book. I’ve read a few historical fiction novels in the past year in which children find themselves in horrendous circumstances and I wasn’t sure if I could handle another. But very early on, I became so interested in the four main characters that I couldn’t put this book down.

I quickly got caught up in Florian, Joana, and Emilia’s stories. Right from the start I had a vested interest in Florian, the Prussian art restaurateur, Joana, the Lithuanian nurse, and Emilia, the pregnant Polish teenager. Heinz, the shoe poet, Klaus, the wandering boy, Ingrid, the blind girl, Sorry Eva, the giantress, are also interesting characters who added color and depth to the story.

Alfred is quite amusing, living in his fantasy world, but he didn’t evoke my empathy. He is so ridiculous with his made-up stories of heroism, all the while hiding out in the bathroom for hours or walking briskly, while looking busy. I kept hoping that Alfred would get a chance to do something truly brave and honorable, and that he would rise to the occasion, step out of his little dream world, and meet the task.

I found the four POVs easy to navigate. I did have to check back a couple of times in the beginning, but it was helpful that the names, ages, and nationalities are repeated every once in a while.

The storyline is exciting and because I hadn’t read the book description (or even looked at the book cover), there were many surprises and unexpected turns of events. I was fascinated as I learned more and more about each of our main characters’ tragic experiences and hopeful as they came together and helped each other. The back story is tragic, the events experienced in the story are tragic, but hope still shines through: Individuals, who are randomly thrown together, display their humanity by using the resources and talents that they have to help each other.

I was awed and humbled. This was a really good book.


Published February 2nd 2016 by Philomel Books

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

TJ Burns Goodreads Review:


You can find this book at:

Amazon: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Barnes & Noble:

Teen and Young Adult Books at Amazon

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