Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys is the Caramel to the Coffee {See what I did there}

 Photo taken by Cicely Ford    Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys   PUBLISHED BY Philomel Books, February 2, 2016  GENRES: Young Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction   PAGES:   400   FORMAT:   HArdback   SOURCE:   Purchased   PACING: {5/5}

Photo taken by Cicely Ford

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
PUBLISHED BY Philomel Books, February 2, 2016
GENRES: Young Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction
PAGES: 400
FORMAT: HArdback
SOURCE: Purchased
PACING: {5/5}

I love my bookstagram {bookworm community on Instagram}. Join us won't you please? There have been so many wonderful opportunities presented to me since joining this community. I also have to admit that it has upped my creativity by like a thousand and to be honest I don't know if I would have ever gotten around to this blog if it had not been for my Instagram friends giving me so much encouragement and inspiration. 

I also have been exposed to new genres and authors which means I get to buy more books. Who needs a book buying ban? Not I. Hee hee!! Ruta Sepetys is an author I was made aware of because BG {That's Bookstagram by the way. You'll see me mention it alot} was gushing over Salt to the Sea. I am the reader who is typically not drawn to overly hyped books, but I eventually caved in and, oh boy, was that the best decision ever. I'm totally, head over heels, enamored and crazy for this book.

I buddy read this with my bookish bestie @teariffic.books . Salt to the Sea is so beautifully written from the POV {Point of View} of four teenage characters ~ Joanna, a Lithuanian nurse with a secret that burdens her with guilt ~ Florian, a mysterious young man with a secret letter and who's true identity is unknown until the very end. Something he struggles with throughout the story ~ Amelia a naive pregnant Polish girl and finally the character that disgusts me the most, Alfred. To put it bluntly, Alfred is an insecure, narcissistic Nazi and Nazi loving sociopathic sailor who writes fictitious letters in his head to his "girlfriend" . He actually has no rank on the ship other than to swab the deck. All of them, however, have secrets. 

Joanna, Florian and Amelia are trekking their way through Prussia and setting their sights on boarding the Wilhelm Gustloff, a German military ship evacuating civilians and wounded soldiers at the approaching end of World War II. The Nazi Reich is crumbling and before the Soviets advance, thousands are fleeing. Although the story itself is fictional, the tragedy of the Gustloff is very real. In fact the sinking of the Gustloff is the deadliest disaster in maritime history to which nearly 10,000 people lost their lives and I had no idea!! I know it's sad to say.

I've read comparisons between this and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and coming from someone who read both I can assure you there is no comparison. I believe where Doerr sort of sugarcoated elements of World War II by shrouding it in mystery, fantasy and cliche tropes, Sepetys was fully invested more in the history and THEN the story to which it ws the perfect literary balance. I was sharing with one of my friends, @bookiewithoutborders, that I was surprised that this book was categorized as Young Adult because it didn't read as a Young Adult novel.

Sepetys wrote the emotions of every character so eloquently. In her prose, she captured the language, the attitude, the moral compass and fiber of each character so perfectly and rightly so. In the epilogue, Sepetys discusses her research, her family connection, the interviews she conducted with people who lived through it and the descendants and friends of those who did not. She did not falter in presenting real scenarios that would've taken place at that time no matter how painful the image. She didn't mask the torment, the death and destruction of an entire group of people being forced from their homeland, from everything they know and subsequently becoming refugees. She gave it to you in the raw, but in the midst of this horrendous tragedy and as Sepetys unravels the backstory of each character, there's a sense of togetherness among Joana, Florian and Amelia. 

This is not just a book of political and social commentary but a true coming of age while facing the most heinous of circumstances. They find strength in depending on and trusting one another which they didn't at first.

Joana protects Amelia from certain fate in order to keep her Polish identity a secret from the Nazi's. I kept asking myself why was Joana so protective of her? What was the guilt she carried? And then I discovered the answer in Sepetys' 'Between Shades of Gray'. Midway into reading SttS I was told I should've read BSoG first, but I was too far in to turn back. After reading both books I realized that it really doesn't make a difference. You don't necessarily need to red BSoG first. These two books do not make up a series. I guess they can sort of be categorized as a duology because some aspects are relatable, but the connections are minute. 

Florian or "the knight" was very likable even though he was perplexing. Although it was clear he was hiding something, there was a sense that whatever he was hiding was to protect others. My favorite character without question was the "Shoe maker" . They all had these nicknames because for one another because they didn't trust each other. The shoe maker always voiced the right sentiments at the right moment. I pictured him to be gray haired, with glasses, demure and soft spoken. He spouted quotes and parables throughout the story that made me reflect on things in my own life.

Do you see, my dear? The proverbs are at play. I wept because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.
— The Shoe Maker

Get ready to get all of your FEELS heaved right out of you. I could not put this book down and read it in 2 days. It's an absolute page turner and tear jerker!! I don't cry over books. This is my favorite read for March!! 

Sepetys had such a committment to the preservation of the people who suffered from this atrocity. She gave them authentic voices and painted a vivid picture of hope, triumph, survival and love. This is in my top 10 for absolute favorite historical fiction novels and the cover is GAW-JUS!!!!!.

And I totally ship Florian and Joana!!!

My Rating:{5/5}