SALT TO THE SEA by Ruta Sepetys tells the story of refugees on a dangerous journey at the end of World War II in Europe.
Joana, Emilia, and Florian along with thousands of others make their way along dirt roads and the back country in hopes of finding a place on a ship to freedom. Told through alternative voices, readers learn the backstory of each character and how they came together in these desperate times. In addition to the three refugees, readers also gain insights into the life of a German soldier named Alfred. Along the way, the author skillfully integrates important war topics including the loss of great artwork, rape by soldiers, and prejudice.
This well-researched young adult work of historical fiction weaves in true events including the tragic sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff carrying ten thousand wounded soldiers and refugees. The back matter includes author notes connecting the real events to the narrative along with sources, maps, and other information.
Librarians will find this book to be an excellent addition to their World War II historical fiction collections. The alternating viewpoints and variety of well-developed characters will be of particular interest to teen readers. The constant threats and ever-changing landscapes help the plot move quickly.
To learn more about the author, go to http://rutasepetys.com/.
Published by Philomel, an imprint of Penguin on February 2, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.