Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys – drowning me in feels and thoughts

Salt to the sea

*All reviews I write are spoiler free*

And here is the perfect example of how I am slowly bu surely dabbling my foot into more historical fiction.

I can tell this is going to become one of my favourite genres.

Let’s talk about how Salt to the Sea left me drowning in feels and thoughts, shall we?


Salt to the Sea

Title: Salt to the Sea

Author: Ruta Sepetys

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Series Status: Standalone

Number of Pages:  378


(Found on back cover, see other version on Goodreads)

War torn Germany.

Four young people. Four dark secrets.

They come from different lands but each of them is hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.

As thousands of refugees flock to the coast, desperate to escape the advancing Red Army, the paths of four young people converge. All are hoping to board the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.

Yet not all promises are kept.


I feel like this was a really great book for me to try out Ruta Sepetys’ writing style. Everyone raves about her, and yet somehow this is the first time I’ve read any of her books. I know for sure I will be reading Between Shades of Gray soon now!

This book has made me realize that while I really love learning history, there’s so so so much that’s happened which I don’t know about. Before reading this, I’d never heard of the Wilhelm Gustloff. So I was fascinated when flipping the pages of this book. I can’t help but love it when a book teaches me something.

It’s written from four character perspectives. This actually took me a while to get used to, which I was surprised about because I’m usually fine with switching characters…but I think this time it caught me out a little because the chapters were just so short! Each chapter is only a few pages, so it switches scenes quite often and at the beginning it could be hard for me to keep up with the names. I soon managed to keep up though. It becomes easier once you know more about each person.

 Although, for me one of the character’s really let this book down. I absolutely hated them. Now, I’m pretty sure they were written this way, and that you’re not meant to like them, but I just feel like I’d have enjoyed the book so much more if they were replaced by a character I cared about. Because whenever their chapters came along, I’d sort of go “UGGGHHHH” and have to grit my teeth through it. They made me so mad. But I suppose since (I’m guessing) they were meant to be written that way, that’s a good thing? Who knows.

I was actually quite startled by how easily I could imagine the scenes from the book. While it seemed like a completely different world to my own, with the problems the characters had to worry about so different and so much bigger (think bombings, wounds, journeys, relatives), I found it so easy to put myself in their place. It was detailed in a way that seemed simple yet effective, and it definitely wasn’t sugar coated. There was even a moment when I had to stop and really think about a particular scene, because I was so disturbed by the events they wouldn’t stop replaying in my head. And I think THAT’S what makes this book so good.

I’d been through all the emotions by the end. I was glad, devastated, empty, sympathetic, hollow, hopeful…you name it. This book just drags you through a war…literally.

Quite frankly, I’ve never read a book quite like this. A book that teaches me a point of history from so many different perspectives. A book that really shows the desperation and heartbreak that the war creates. A book that somehow disturbs me and fascinates me at the same time.

I really recommend this book, though be warned: It’s historical fiction, so as you might expect, it might not be for the lighthearted.

Rated 4/5 stars!

4 stars

Order from Amazon!

Have you read this book? What did you think?

Have you read any of Ruta’s other books?

If you haven’t read this book, is it on your TBR?

Let me know in the comments!

Until next time…



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12 thoughts on “Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys – drowning me in feels and thoughts

  1. I’m absolutely dying to read this! I haven’t gotten around to it yet simply because I have so many other books that I’m making myself read first, but I can’t wait to get to this one. I read Between Shades of Gray and it easily became one of my all-time favorites. I’ve been seeing so many good things said about Salt to the Sea and I know it won’t disappoint!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah yes I loved this book too 🙂 that character you were talking about did frustrate me as well but he was still kind of interesting to read about. I loved all the other characters too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m currently reading this! I’m kind of in a reading slump right now, so the fact that the chapters are only a few pages each mightily appeals to me, haha. I’m expecting that I’ll love Salt to the Sea — it’s been getting great reviews, from what I’ve seen, and I loved Ruta’s Between Shades of Gray and her slightly lesser-known Out of the Easy. Great review, Ashleigh!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! The really short chapters appealed to me too – I felt like I was falling into a reading slump too so when I was going through so many chapters, it spurred me on. I’ve yet to read Between Shades of Gray, but plan to soon. And I’ll definitely be checking out her other book. I really hope you enjoy I as much as I did! And that it pulls you out of your slump 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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