Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys


Carnegie Winner 2017

A book to read, to treasure, to make you think, to inspire you to learn more about events in history, to ask the older generations in your family about their stories and, most of all, a book to share and recommend.

In her author’s notes, Ruta Sepetys pleads to readers to ‘give them a voice’; them being people from past generations who have told us their stories, giving us the truth about history. As these survivors disappear, it is important that their stories do not disappear with them.

Salt of the Sea is a book that gives a voice to the past; a past that many of us are unaware of. Most young people can relate facts about the sinking of the Titanic, but few are likely to know about the sinking of the Wilhelm Gusthof, which resulted in the death of an estimated 9,000 people. This is why books like Salt of the Sea are important.

Beautifully written, the book captures the readers heart and mind, weaving a fascinating story peopled with engaging characters whilst also teaching the reader about a slice of history. With today’s news full of how the troubles in the Middle East are uprooting families and peoples and the tragic deaths of refugees at sea; this story will be even more poignant and important to readers.

A hugely enjoyable, if heartbreaking read. This is a book that needs to be read and then recommended to other readers.

Brief Synopsis

Set in East Germany in WW2, the story is told through the eyes of a group of characters trekking across East Germany in a bid to escape the approaching Russians and the dangers of Nazi Germany. The main characters are Emilia, a 15 year old Polish; Joana, a 21 year old Lithuanian who was allowed to settle in Germany, Fabian, a 19 year old Prussian and Alfred, a young German sailor who lives in his mind, embellishing his importance and standing. Alfred is based at the port of Gotenhafen, where the Germans are preparing ships to help evacuate their wounded and their refugees from the advancing Russians. Emilia, Joana, Fabian and others in their group are heading for the port in search of a secure passage on one of the ships. Their journey is hard and dangerous and each one carries a heavy and painful secret. When they finally board a ship, the Wilhelm Gusthoff, they are lulled into a false sense of security: the arduous part of their journey is far from over.



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