I’m a huge history nerd, I studied the first and second world wars and the time between the wars often in school so I feel like I know a lot about nazism and the way Europe was rocked by the war, however I didn’t study the end of the war and what happened in the Europe after the fall of the Nazis and the rise of the communists. I feel like it’s something that’s often glazed over, I know most people hadn’t heard of the disaster in this book despite it being a larger scale than that of the Titanic.
Salt to the Sea follows 4 different young people during the fall of Nazi Germany in Poland needing to escape before the Russians take over. That’s it summed up simply but it’s so much more than that.
I really enjoyed this book, I didn’t quite love it but that was because I didn’t feel like I really connected to the characters until about halfway through.
You could really feel how well researched Sepetys was before reading this. Even without the pages at the end detailing what she did in order to find out everything possible from different perspectives, it came across in every word. Unless you’ve been there it can be incredibly hard to write the devastation of wars and the displacement of so many people but I felt like Sepetys got as close to it as possible for someone who wasn’t involved.
The chapters alternate each characters point of view and I think this was part of my disconnection problem, it didn’t really give me enough time to grow used to their voice and their characterisation. Of course, it’s important to show different sides of the story, as we have a soldier working on the big boat, a Prussian, a Lithuanian and a Pole, it highlighted the different struggles and the differing survival instincts. Personally I didn’t really see the point of the soldier’s POV until much later on in the story as he was just speaking gibberish really for most of it.
Another small part of me was a bit let down by the ending and felt like it was a kind of cop out, but this isn’t a huge complaint from me.
I do want to read another book by Sepetys as I enjoyed er writing style and I love that she’s willing to research and write about little known events in history. It’s incredible how such disastrous things can just be completely ignored, and quite scary really.