I love World War II fiction. Quite frankly, I enjoy reading about World War II regardless of whether it is fact or fiction. The fact of the matter is, even novels and other works of fiction about World War II contain so many elements of truth that it feels incredibly real. Of course, I sometimes find it difficult to admit that I enjoy this type of literature, because what does that say about me? That I like reading about such an atrocious time in our world’s history. But if we never read about it, we don’t think about it. And if we don’t think about it, we are doing a disservice to everyone who was affected by it.
Now that you know that little fact about me. I’ll get right to it. I loved Salt to the Sea. I knew nothing of the Wilhelm Gustloff before reading this book except that it was a German ship that sunk toward the end of the war. So this book served as something of an education for me, and I love to learn.
I also love a good romance. A GOOD romance. And this felt to me like a good romance. I really loved watching Florian and Joana develop as individuals and as a unit. I love that they found each other and I love that they (SPOILER ALERT) formed a family that honored the legacies of those characters that didn’t make it.
All that being said, when I was nearly done with the book, I said to Katie C., who was traveling with me, “Did you feel like you were reading a book about the sinking of a World War II ship that was based on the movie Titanic?” She laughed, I laughed, I continued reading, and firmly decided that this was a slightly happier, but also tenfold more tragic version of Jack and Rose.
Bottom line: read it. Or if you’re like me, devour it.