Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea

A Novel

Book - 2016
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New York Times Bestseller!  "Masterly crafted" -- The Wall Street Journal

For readers of  Between Shades of Gray  and All the Light We Cannot See , bestselling 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.

World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, many 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 matter as all ten thousand 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  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.

Praise for  Salt to the Sea :
Featured on NPR's Morning Edition  ♦  "Superlative...masterfully crafted...[a] powerful work of historical fiction."-- The Wall Street Journal  ♦   "[Sepetys is] a master of YA fiction...she once again anchors a panoramic view of epic tragedy in perspectives that feel deeply textured and immediate."-- Entertainment Weekly  ♦   "Compelling for both adult and teenage readers."-- New York Times Book Review  ♦  "Intimate, extraordinary, artfully crafted...brilliant."-- Shelf Awareness   ♦  "[H]aunting, heartbreaking, hopeful and altogether of the best young-adult novels to appear in a very long time."-- Salt Lake Tribune  ♦   * "This haunting gem of a novel begs to be remembered."-- Booklist,  starred review  ♦  * "Artfully told and sensitively crafted...will leave readers weeping."-- School Library Journal,  starred review

Praise for Between Shades of Gray :
New York Times  Notable Book, 2011  ♦   Wall Street Journal  Best Children's Book, 2011  ♦  A  Publishers Weekly ,  School Library Journal , Booklist , and Kirkus  Best Book of 2011  ♦  iTunes 2011 Rewind Best Teen Novel  ♦  A Carnegie Medal and William C. Morris Finalist  ♦  A  New York Times  and International Bestseller  ♦  "Few books are beautifully written, fewer still are important; this novel is both."-- The Washington Post  ♦   * "Beautifully written and deeply important book that deserves the widest possible readership."-- Booklist
Publisher: New York :, Philomel Books,, ©2016.
ISBN: 9780399160301
Branch Call Number: YA SEP
Characteristics: 391 pages : maps ; 22 cm.


From Library Staff

List - Refugee stories
Liesel_C Dec 17, 2017

An evocative historical fiction inspired by a real-life tragedy. It is winter 1945, towards the end of the Second World War, and thousands of refugees in Eastern Europe are fleeing the Soviet advance. "Salt to the sea" tells the story of four refugees hoping to gain passage on the Wilh... Read More »

It’s 1945; the war is ending, and with the Red Army advancing, thousands of refugees are fleeing Germany. Joanna, Emilia, and Florian are thrown together on the ship Wilhelm Gustloff, but when disaster strikes, can they still hope for freedom – or even survival?

It is 1945, and four teens are seeking refuge on a ship that promises safety to all. As their paths converge, their hopes for freedom hang in the balance.

From the critics

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AL_LAURA Feb 07, 2018

Emotional story of four teen refugees during WWII

Feb 03, 2018

This book is set in the winter of 1945 during World War II and follows four refugees who are seeking to escape and end up on the Wilhelm Gustloff. The William Gustloff was an actual ship during WWII and is a part of a tragedy that was 6 times more deadly than the Titanic. I love how reading this fiction book inspired me to research what actually happened on the William Gustloff. I highly recommend this book.

Nov 10, 2017

This is an amazing book, and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes War, Romance and Historical fiction-like books. Reminds me of the Titanic, which, for the record, is one of the saddest and best movies I have ever seen.

This book is about a group of strangers who become good friends and struggle to make it to a safer land without being caught in the middle of the war. A must read!

Oct 23, 2017

What would you do if you were stuck working with an enemy?

Check out my review of "Salt to the Sea" on my blog at:

Oct 03, 2017

An excellent historical novel for YA. The author retells the personal history of many citizens catch up in the tragedies of WW11 through her wonderful selection of characters. Readers of all ages will want to know what happens to the 4 main characters of this well-written novel.

Vilka Sep 27, 2017

Short chapters (only 1-4 pages long) keep the story moving quickly, watching from the viewpoints of four young protagonists--a Lithuanian nurse with a guilty conscience, a Polish teenager hiding a secret, an evasive Prussian with false papers, and a low-ranking German sailor--as they try to escape the Soviet advance in 1945 and move towards what will be the greatest naval disaster in history. A moving account of ordinary people's experiences in wartime and the struggle for survival. The afterword includes an interesting list of books that the author used for research and inspiration.

CRRLKids Sep 26, 2017

This book read a lot like a Titanic survival story, maybe an I Survived read for an older audience. The first half of the book was a bit hard to keep track of as each chapter was narrated by a different character, but as you kept reading, how they connected to one another was made clearer. The second half of the book was a page turning, riveting thriller as each character has to decide whether they could trust one another as tragedy loomed near aboard the ship.

Aug 24, 2017

This was an interesting and educational novel. Throughout I found the supporting characters to be infinitely more interesting than the main characters through the Shoe Poet, the Wandering Boy, Ingrid, and Eva. I could have happily gone without Florian's story entirely, and the book would have been significantly better without the ideas of romance. Otherwise, it was an emotional and well-written story I could see myself revisiting.

Jul 27, 2017

This is a great book.
I don't particularly consider this book a romance because it's about tragic events. Though it does have some romantic parts I don't recommend for the readers in it for the romance.
Overall, this book captured my heart and made me cry. Emilia's death was something I couldn't let go. Her pregnancy and her baby was shocking but hurt when she was raped.
The death of Poet had me in tears as well.
I am most glad that Joana and Florian took it in their hands to care for them. Joana and Florian are a perfect example of what it feels like to strive for family. How to believe and trust. And to conclude, they couldn't resist the passion building up inside for each other. They are an example of how people held back feelings for others because they are scared they will lose them as well.
Poor families were killed and the blind were treated like dogs.
And as to conclude, I loved this novel.

Jul 26, 2017

Loved this book, the characters, the story, the short chapters kept me turning the pages.

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AL_MARYA Dec 31, 2016

“But unlike Mama, I would not go to heaven. My secrets padlocked the gates. I'd be a torn kite stuck in the dead branches of a tree, unable to fly.”

KindianaJones_VWML May 06, 2016

"The Fuhrer is a talented watercolorist. He applied to art school [...] but the school did not accept him. Oh, how they will regret it."

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Jan 06, 2018

blue_bee_1863 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


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