Salt to the Sea was definitely a quick read, but left me a little uneasy. Honestly, I wish I hadn’t known so much about the fate of the Wihelm Gustoff before reading. Because I knew that this ship, [SPOILER] the end of these fictional characters’ pilgrimage, met a terribly tragic end in real life, I read the entire book at arms-length. I fought attachment to any one story or character for fear I’d be disappointed in the end. I think this sullied my reading of the book a bit, and it’s why I wish I hadn’t known at about the great maritime disaster before picking it up.
So, for any future readers, I’d recommend not reading anything about the historical event this book is based on before you start. I think it would make for a freer (less anxious) reading experience.
“How foolish to believe we are more powerful than the sea or the sky.”
That being said… I did like the book. Although a quick read, I kept postponing my progress. I was too afraid of the ending. But it turns out I didn’t need to be THAT fearful. Like any historical fiction based on wartime struggle there’s of course some tragedy, but nothing that ruined my opinion of the book overall. It’s written in short chapters, each told from the alternating perspectives of different characters. And the characters stories are all rich, heart-felt, and somewhat mysterious. The length did feel a little awkward to me… I wish it’d been longer (more back stories and resolution at the end) or a little shorter (a little less waiting to board the ship, etc). But overall I liked the story, the characters, and the ending. However uneasy I felt about how things would turn out, I was content with the ending. Happy, even.
So if you’re looking for a quick YA read with good characters set in a historical fiction landscape…. this is the perfect match!
Happy reading 🙂