This is a companion book to Sepetys’ book, Between Shades of Gray, but they both stand alone.
In this book, we follow four people during World War II, desperately trying to flee from the Soviet advances. Joana, Emilia and Florian, meet along the road as they head for the coast where they’ve heard they can board a ship that will take to freedom. When they arrive at the coast, along with thousands of others, they meet Alfred, a young German soldier stationed on the ship, Wilhem Gustoff.
This book is told in alternating narratives that take you through their journey. Just when you think they have made it to safety, their journey takes a turn that no one saw coming.
I love Ruta Sepetys and will read anything she writes. She is one of the very few historical fiction authors that I can get middle school students to read. I did not realize that Salt to the Sea was connected to Between Shades of Gray. It has been awhile since I read the first, but I definitely like the subtle connection between the two.
As I read this book, I was astonished by the bravery of the refugees. I cannot imagine having to travel like they did, walking over dead bodies, searching for shelter wherever they could find it. World War II books are never easy or pleasant reads but they are necessary. I appreciate Ms. Sepetys telling the less-known stories of World War II.