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Publisher's Summary

Winner, 2017 APA Audie Awards - Young Adult
For readers of Between Shades of Gray and All the Light We Cannot See, international best-selling author Ruta Sepetys returns to WWII in this epic novel that shines a light on one of the war's most devastating - yet unknown - tragedies.
In 1945, World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer to safety.
Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country nor culture nor status matters as all 10,000 people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.
Told in alternating points of view and perfect for fans of Anthony Doerr's Pulitzer Prize-winning All the Light We Cannot See, Erik Larson's critically acclaimed number-one New York Times best seller Dead Wake, and Elizabeth Wein's Printz Honor Book Code Name Verity, this masterful work of historical fiction is inspired by the real-life tragedy that was the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff- the greatest maritime disaster in history. As she did in Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys unearths a shockingly little-known casualty of a gruesome war and proves that humanity can prevail, even in the darkest of hours.
©2016 Ruta Sepetys (P)2016 Listening Library
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Critic Reviews

"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 best-selling 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 best-selling author of An Ember in the Ashes)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By FanB14 on 02-19-16

Haunting Historical YA Fiction

A Polish girl, German soldier, & Lithuanian nurse are the heart of a group desperate to flee at the end of WWII. Alternating POVs portray backgrounds steeped in sadness and despair as they board their "savior" ship.

The story is artfully crafted with rich details, loosely based on facts. She is not just a good writer, but an excellent storyteller, bringing to light the worst maritime disaster in history. Ever heard of it? Most hadn't until now. The true details from the epilogue highlight how well she wove in the fact with fiction. Don't read other reviews giving away the rich details, just enjoy. If you like this one, "Between Shades of Gray" is even better.

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25 of 26 people found this review helpful


By ernest drown on 02-20-16

Beautiful heartbreaker

This is an absolutely beautiful performance of a powerful, haunting story. Right up there with The Book of Aron and The War that Saved My Life and Echo....a quartet of life changing books about WW II, all recent. You'll carry these characters in your heart for a loooong time.

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10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Hazel McKinnon on 07-22-17

A truly 5* book

Would you listen to Salt to the Sea again? Why?

Yes. I listened to the book twice. It was like I didn't want to let go of the characters

What was one of the most memorable moments of Salt to the Sea?

The ending had me in tears

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The sinking of the ship was so dramatic. I felt I was with the people all the way.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me cry especially at the end. I was sad and yet happy that at least one person had got home to rest in peace.

Any additional comments?

This was a wonderful story. I know the main characters were fictional but the truth of what happened to so many ofl these people has been kept quiet all these years. Such a well written book. I have recommended it to others,

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By J. Grear on 06-24-17

Great book - average production

I thought the decision to use actors with very strong (rather grating) American accents an odd one given the emphasis in the book given to the characters' disparate backgrounds. However that's partly person preference.

However what really really irritated was at least two of the actors pronouncing 'buoyed' as 'boo-eeyed' as if they'd never hear the word said aloud before. Definitely the kind of detail that should be picked up during the production process.

Great story though.

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Customer Reviews

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By Attila on 01-05-18

Just didnt do it for me.

Any additional comments?

This book had the selling point for me: Its another 'All the Light we Cannot See". So its with this expectation that I got it... Also I actually knew about the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, this all meant that for me the planets were aligning and I had an awesome book on my hands, one that would close 2017 and be a great start to awesome novels read in the early 2018. Unfortunately this didn't live up to my expectations.
For me I felt the author's true heart was not in the book or its characters. I felt she was going through the motions to try to write a good book on par with her earlier success 'Between Shades of Grey'. And I got a suspicion its this book that is the authors true work.. For me Salt of the Sea was something she needed to turn out to keep the publishing company happy (to lay another golden egg as it were).. By the end of the book I didn't care what happened to the characters and still hoped the book might pull off a last minute save.. It didn't.. How the sinking was treated was rushed and anti climatic. Its simply a deus machine to wrap up the 'nazi stolen treasure side plot' (LOL yep theres actually a nazi stolen treasure sub plot which overarches its clichéd ugly head all through most of the novel)...
Sigh.. I wish this could have been a great book as we finally have a book that deals with the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff and hopefully this maritime disaster can enter the popular cultures mind like the Titanic and Lusitania. But I don't think people will still be talking about this book by the end of 2018.. Its too mediocre.

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