Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys – Book Review | LibroLiv

Rating: 5/5 stars

Suitable for Fans of: The Book Thief, historical fiction,


25614492Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.

Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.

As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.

Yet not all promises can be kept.

Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope.

Goodreads Status Updates:

2%: “I am extremely excited for this one ^_^”

58%: “This is so intense, I love it”


Joana Vilkas, your daughter, your sister. She is salt to the sea.

To construct a novel set in World War 2 is daring when considering the mass amount of novels already existing in this genre. People shouldn’t, but they will compare your novel to every other WW2 book, and yours will have to find a way to be that little bit better.

Frankly, Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys is that little bit better than them all.

The truth it supplies is equally daunting and haunting, and it is heart-rending to read of such loss, such corruption, such distress. It is humbling to read this book without knowing of any of the events that transpire, despite the written event being such a catastrophe, and a production only of the truth. It is devastating that such a story doesn’t trump the Titanic to the top of the most-famous-shipwrecks list – such a story should be known, and passed from generation to generation. The lives that were lost are not insignificant, and reading this book will open your eyes to the suffering so many endured during WW2, suffering we neglect to even talk about.

Ruta Sepetys has an awe-inspiring way with words that engage you from the outset – the short chapters, flowing sentences, and action packed clauses made it so that I never wanted to put this book down. The switches in point-of-view made it so that one could understand the perspective of multiple characters during WW2, and made it so that interest was never lost. The short chapters built suspense, and the book was so full of twists and turns that one can never leave a chapter without wondering what event is on the horizon.

I loved the pace to this book, just as I loved the depth to and motivations of each character. There isn’t a character that stands out as letting the book down, because all were so complex, and real. They felt like real people, and their conversations felt authentic, so much so that I was engrossed in their world for the entirety of the novel, and caught myself thinking about them in everyday life.

If you’re looking to broaden your horizons with what you read, I definitely recommend Salt to the Sea, in the same way that I recommend it if you enjoy historical/WW2 fiction.

Also, if you are considering reading this novel, I would neglect to read as much information on it as possible – I went into this novel without any prior knowledge, only the synopsis you can see above, and the experience is one I would love for others to encounter.

My only criticism would relate to the ending – I feel as though it was a little too fast-paced for my taste, and would definitely have benefited from more detail. Aside from that, this book – in my opinion – was perfect, explaining as to why I awarded it 5/5 stars. This is definitely a story that will remain with me.

You can find the book here: Amazon | Goodreads

(Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Salt is a food (Salt to the Sea), and so I am entering this novel for the number 47 spot on the Around the Year in 52 Books challenge: A book with a type of food/drink in the title. Yay!

6 thoughts on “Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys – Book Review | LibroLiv

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