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Salt to the Sea

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  170,112 ratings  ·  22,424 reviews
While the Titanic and Lusitania are both well-documented disasters, the single greatest tragedy in maritime history is the little-known January 30, 1945 sinking in the Baltic Sea by a Soviet submarine of the Wilhelm Gustloff, a German cruise liner that was supposed to ferry wartime personnel and refugees to safety from the advancing Red Army. The ship was overcrowded with ...more
Hardcover, 391 pages
Published February 2nd 2016 by Philomel Books
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Average rating 4.35  · 
Rating details
 ·  170,112 ratings  ·  22,424 reviews

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Emily May
Nov 09, 2015 rated it it was ok
I try, I really do, but Sepetys's war stories do nothing for me. Yes, I know I'm in the minority. I was one of few who didn't love her debut - Between Shades of Gray - and much preferred her second book - Out of the Easy. Now she returns to World War II and, once again, I don't get it.

As with her first novel, I feel a little uncomfortable being negative about these kinds of books. This was a horrific time when some terrible atrocities were committed and I applaud the author for always focusing o
Maggie Stiefvater
Dec 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This swift-footed, kind-hearted historical is intensely satisfying in just about all the ways a novel can be satisfying. Without further ado, here are five things you should know about it before picking it up:

1. A lot of times, historical fiction shows its work. As a history major, I don't mind a research-filled brick of a book, but I'd think carefully about who I recommended it to. Historical can be dense. Salt to the Sea is not that book: Sepetys chooses her word battles carefully for an incre
Hannah Azerang
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have never been so simultaneously sad and angry while reading a book in my whole life
Jesse (JesseTheReader)
Jan 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book was beautiful. It's gonna take a minute for all my thoughts to set in. Video review to come!
Feb 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Update: Here is my video review

This book is a masterpiece. It takes place during WW2 and follows 4 characters as they are seeking freedom on the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety to all. Going into it I was very apprehensive about reading it. Historical fiction is not a genre I typically reach for. But this book blew me away. It's safe to say that this book was the best book I have read this year.

The writing in the book was so phenomenal. The
Hailey (Hailey in Bookland)
Such a beautiful yet tragic story. Ruta Sepetys has such a way with words. Video review to come
Dec 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
“How foolish to believe we are more powerful than the sea or the sky.”


Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys nurtured my body, it fed my soul, it made my heart soar. I also had a wave of despair and a feeling of intense longing when the book ended, coming to the unfortunate and fortunate realization that I would be experiencing a book hangover. (A phenomenon that occurs when you read something so good, you think you will never find something quite as good again)

This book was by no means
Victoria Schwab
Dec 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Ruta's work is a gift. ...more
Sabaa Tahir
Aug 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book leveled me. I was unprepared. Beautiful.
Dec 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc
“Joana Vilkas, your daughter, your sister. She is salt to the sea.”

I’ve been waiting for this book ever since I finished reading Between Shades of Grey back in August.
I’ll admit that I had very high expections for this book and I’m glad that every single one of them was met. I could not stop reading Salt to the sea, I kept telling myself just one more chapter, just one more (we all know how well that works).

I enjoyed reading from every main character and (view spoiler)
Before starting 'Salt to the Sea', I had heard quite a lot of praise for the book. In fact, I was a little nervous to start it because I was afraid that it wouldn't live up to it's reputation. Thankfully, that didn't prove to be the case. This book was beautiful, devastatingly so.

Ms. Sepetys does a wonderful job of shedding light on the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, a maritime disaster that claimed more than 9,000 lives and remains an overlooked part of history. Admittedly, I had never heard
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
That was sad but there was some happiness too. But some of the things put some horrific images in your head =(

Mel 🖤
Kai Spellmeier
“War is catastrophe. It breaks families in irretrievable pieces. But those who are gone are not necessarily lost.”

A Pole with a past. A Prussian with a mission. A Lithuanian with a secret. A German with issues. One ship. Three torpedoes.

Nearly one year ago I read the highly acclaimed novel Between Shades of Grey. Now Ruta Sepetys is back, with another historical telling set against the backdrop of World War II.
Sepety's novels often talk of dark and dangerous times, with a light and comforting to
Dannii Elle
First Read: August 2016, Rating: 5/5 stars
Second Read: March 2020, Rating: 5/5 stars

I am an emotional wreck! This is such a wonderfully evocative and poignant recount of such a dark period in human history. Sepetys has brought history to life in amongst these pages filled with pain, grief and heartbreak of the worst possible kind - that caused by other human beings.

This split narration follows the lives of four young individuals and their alternate opinions and stances in the war. The year is 19
Jul 22, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"What had human beings become? Did war make us evil or just activate an evil already lurking within us?"

Ruta Sepetys`s novel Salt to the Sea is the story of four individuals - Joana, Florian, Emilia and Alfred - who make their way to the ill-fated ship, Wilhelm Gustloff. This little-known unfortunate event `the sinking by Soviet torpedoes of the Wilhelm Gustloff in 1945` is mentioned as the single greatest tragedy in maritime history.

This book is about the importance of hope for survival. The bo
Feb 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Wow, what a beautiful, breath taking, eye opening story.
Lisa of Troy
Dec 10, 2020 rated it liked it
This book covers the largest loss of life in maritime history- the sinking of the German Wilhelm Gustloff in January 1945. It was torpedoed by Soviet forces during WWII. Over 9,000 people lost their lives including many civilians (including children).

The book is told in very short chapters from 4 different characters: Florian, a Prussian man fleeing his post, Emilia, a pregnant 15 year old Polish girl, Joana, a Lithuanian medical assistant, and Alfred, a young Nazi. Most of the book (about 75%
Sep 14, 2016 rated it really liked it

“On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland from the west. On September 17, 1939, Russia invaded Poland from the east. I remembered these dates. Two warning nations gripped Poland like girls fighting over a doll. One held the leg, the other the arm. They pulled so hard that one day, the head popped off. The Nazis sent our people to ghettos and concentration camps. The Soviets sent our people to gulags and Siberia. I was nine years old when it started. People changed. Faces shrived and sunk, li
Whitney Atkinson
Mar 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016

In both of Ruta's books, somehow my tears get saved until the moment I close the book, then everything I just read collapses down on me and it gets me choked up. I really really liked Between Shades of Grey because of its ending, and I was so excited to hear about Ruta's second book following non-German (mostly) WWII. I've mentioned before that i'm not a fan of books that are told by a handful of characters. I think they're hard to get into, can be confusing, and none of t
Feb 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fav-hr

⸨ Your daughter, your sister.
She is salt to the sea, ⸩

This was my first book by Ruta Sepetys, and it won't be last.
I have already bought "Between Shades of Gray",
and "Out of the Easy" is on it's way. :D

I am obsessed with this remarkable author.
She is so inspiring, and down to earth.
Most importantly, she is a powerful storyteller.
I loved the way this book is written.
There are 4 POVs and each chapter is about 2-4 pages long.
There are no unnecessary details, which i highly app
Oct 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
the sinking of the wilhelm gustloff is the deadliest disaster in maritime history, with losses dwarfing the death tolls of both the titanic and lusitania combined. and yet, most people have never heard of it. myself included.

if one of the greatest catastrophes ever recorded has become so forgotten, just think of all the small horrors people suffered during WWII that we will never even know about. my heart just aches them and the nightmares they lived through. which is why i will always apprecia
Katie ♡

5 giant and well-worthy stars!!


Oh dear, what a beautiful masterpiece this book is... I honestly don't know what to say about it, except for the fact that the book is so heart-wrenching and thoughtful. Throughout this one, the truth reveals to oneself about the destructive consequences of the war between the Russians and the Germans during World War II, which have caused the tragic deaths of thousands of innocent victims that is indeed too emotional yet truthful to bear.

What a phenom
Dec 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book crushed me! Despite having read and learned so much about this terrible time in our world history, I am amazed that there are constantly new aspects of it I didn't know before, which continue to stun and sadden. Salt to the Sea, in particular, touched me because it mirrored, to a degree, what my grandmother and her family experienced. My grandmother, her little brother, her widowed mother and aunt had to flee from Silesia to escape the Russians, which is similar to why the characters i ...more
Jan 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Well that was enlightening, emotional, and a page-turning read!

SALT TO THE SEA by RUTA SEPETYS is a Historical Fiction novel that is engaging, heart-wrenching, and a powerful read with an extremely interesting plot that grabbed my attention from the very first chapter. This was definitely another page-turner and extremely hard to put down.

The last few books that I have read lately have either had an embossed dustjacket or cover and this is no exception as this one has a partially embossed dustja
April (Aprilius Maximus)
4.5 stars

ow, my feelingsssssssss
Aestas Book Blog
Feb 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
::: FULL REVIEW NOW POSTED ::: 4.5 stars

WOAH. What an incredible book! It was vastly different than the usual books I read. I'm usually a pretty hardcore Romance genre reader, but this story swept me away! I read it in a single day and had tears in my eyes in the end (letters always make me cry) and I keep thinking about this story in the back of my mind. I just can't let go.

Whenever I'm going through a major book hangover, I like to try and switch up the genre I read. Given my intense love of
Sepetys does it again with this "sequel" to Between Shades of Grey. Another heart-wrenching tale of WWII involving not very well known Russian/German conflicts and the innocent people affected by them.

If you are a fan of historical fiction, WWII fiction, or using up a couple boxes of tissues because of a good tear-jerker, this is a great book to check out.
Jan 29, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: historical

Absolutely infuriating.

Expectations vs. reality:

Misleading synopsis.
I expected a book that recounted the worst maritime tragedy in recorded history. I got... well, let’s not.

This was supposed to be about the Wilhelm Gustloff, a German military transport ship which was sunk in 1945 by the soviets in the Baltic Sea and one that cost in estimate, 9,400 lives, making it the largest maritime disaster in history.

And though I have no problem with character-driven books (actuall
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
""A momentary quiet followed, leaving nothing but the sound of the wind and waves. We bobbed up
and back, up and back, waves lapping and curling, the sound of crying filtering through the dark.""

Intense and Glorified writing and character.
Exceptional narration.
My favorite character- Shoemaker
"“I wept because i had no shoes,
until i met a man who had no feet.”

"That is class of writing when reader thinks whether the story is fiction or reality, Just like story line of movie- THE WORDS."
Feb 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-war
Ahh man I take back what I said about Emilia being annoying. She was not. Not one bit.
This was such a beautiful book! I'm mad at myself for not reading it sooner.
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Challenge Corner: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys -> Restarting August 1st, 2022 23 36 Jul 31, 2022 02:55PM  
Historical Fictio...: Salt to the Sea 7 15 Apr 21, 2022 01:18PM  
Salt to the Sea: Half-Way Point 2 20 Nov 14, 2021 05:01PM  

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#1 New York Times Bestselling Author and Winner of the Carnegie Medal.
Ruta Sepetys was born and raised in Michigan in a family of artists, readers, and music lovers. The daughter of a refugee, Ruta is drawn to underrepresented stories of strength through struggle and hopes to give voice to those who weren't able to tell their story. Her award-winning historical novels are published in over sixty c

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“I wept because i had no shoes,
until i met a man who had no feet.”
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