Shelf Control #329: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

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Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

Title: Salt to the Sea
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Published: 2016
Length: 221 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

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 than 10,500 passengers — the intended capacity was approximately 1,800 — and more than 9,000 people, including 5,000 children, lost their lives.

Sepetys (writer of ‘Between Shades of Gray’) crafts four fictionalized but historically accurate voices to convey the real-life tragedy. Joana, a Lithuanian with nursing experience; Florian, a Prussian soldier fleeing the Nazis with stolen treasure; and Emilia, a Polish girl close to the end of her pregnancy, converge on their escape journeys as Russian troops advance; each will eventually meet Albert, a Nazi peon with delusions of grandeur, assigned to the Gustloff decks.

How and when I got it:

I have a paperback edition on my shelf, which I think I bought at a used book store at least 3 or 4 years ago.

Why I want to read it:

This book had so many great reviews when it came out! I remember reading newspaper reviews (all positive) at the time, plus so many bloggers talked about how powerful it is.

I’ve read one book by Ruta Sepetys before — Out of the Easy — set in 1950s New Orleans. I liked it, but not as much as I’d expected to, and while I’ve heard good things about other books by this author, I haven’t gotten around to exploring any other of her works.

I’m drawn to Salt to the Sea based on the premise — because yes, while I’m quite familiar with the Titanic and the Lusitania, before picking up this book, I’d never heard of the Wilhelm Gustloff. There’s something so awful about ships sinking — the idea of it is absolutely terrifying to me, and the scale of this particular tragedy is so huge that it’s hard to comprehend.

I’m glad I stumbled across my copy of Salt to the Sea while thinking about what book to feature this week! It sounds like an emotional read, and I’m interested in the historical aspects as well as the stories of the individual characters.

What do you think? Would you read this book?

Please share your thoughts!


Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
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