salt to the sea

Hi friends! Hope you all are doing well. I know I haven’t posted in a while, so thanks for sticking around. Hopefully I’ll get through some of these reviews by making them a little shorter than usual, but I should be back on my pace soon! Enjoy!

Synopsis & Quick Thoughts

Salt to the Sea is a novel by popular author Ruta Sepetys. It tells the story of three characters: Joana, a Lithuanian with nursing experience; Florian, a Prussian soldier fleeing the Nazis with stolen treasure; and Emilia, a Polish girl close to the end of her pregnancy, and their convergence as they attempt to escape the advancing Russian military. They meet Albert, a Nazi peon with delusions of grandeur, aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a real historical ship that sunk in the Baltic Sea, killing over 9,000 people and becoming the greatest tragedy in maritime history.

This book was amazing and well done. And I hope that means something coming from someone who generally doesn’t enjoy historical fiction. I almost cried, which is something that I rarely say for any book I read. Although the pacing was slow to start off, it really picked up in the second half and I really enjoyed myself.


I think one of the reasons I really enjoyed this novel was the real-world connection to the Wilhelm Gustloff. The inclusion of a real element of history made the plot and characters all the more believable to me. I loved the characters and their development; this was a character-driven novel well done. I cared about most everyone in the novel and like I mentioned above, I almost cried, which is something I haven’t done over a book in years. I also appreciated the fact that Sepetys made all of her characters from different groups that have been historically underrepresented and gave a voice and name to those so often overlooked in the events she covered.


The only thing I could see as a drawback to this novel was that it started pretty slow. You might have a hard time getting into if you’re not the biggest fan of character-driven stories. While the plot picks up around 50% of the way through the book, I was wondering when the events outlined in the synopsis I read were actually going to take place. I wish that the plot had gotten moving a little quicker, but that’s really my only complaint.

Rating & Final Thoughts

I’m going to give Salt to the Sea 4 out of 5 stars. This is probably one of the best historical fictions I’ve read in a while, and I really enjoyed it as someone who isn’t a huge fan of the genre. I would highly recommend giving this one a go, especially if you’re a fan of character-driven storytelling.

Purchase Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys here.

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