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Hardcover
Salt to the Sea
Author: Sepetys, Ruta
Publisher: Philomel Books Parent Publisher: Philomel
Age: 12-19  Grade: 7-12  LC: PZ7.S479 
ISBN-10: 0399160302  ISBN-13: 9780399160301  Brodart No: 112866867 
Language: English 
Demand: Hot 
Pub Date: 02/02/2016
Availability: Available
 
 
 
List: $18.99
Physical Description: 391 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm LCCN: 2015009057 
LC Series:
Brodart Sources: Brodart's Common Core Selections
Brodart's For Youth Interest Titles
Brodart's For Youth Interest: Popular
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Starred Reviews: Booklist
Library Journal
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Publishers Weekly
Awards: Best Fiction for Young Adults 
Booklist Starred Reviews 
Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices 
Horn Book Guide Titles, Rated 1 - 4 
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New York Times Notable Books 
Notable Books for a Global Society 
Publishers Weekly Annual Best Books Selections 
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School Library Journal Best Books 
School Library Journal Starred Reviews 
TIPS Subjects: Historical Fiction
Military Fiction
Action/Adventure
SEARS Subjects: World War, 1939-1945, Fiction
LC Subjects: Refugees, Fiction
World War, 1939-1945, Fiction
World War, 1939-1945, Juvenile fiction
Reading Programs: Accelerated Reader Level: 4.5, Points: 10.0
Lexile Level: 560
Reading Counts Level: 5.2, Points: 17.0
 Annotations
Brodart's TOP Young Adult Titles | 01/01/2016
East Prussia is in turmoil as the Russians overwhelm the Germans at the close of World War II, but three refugees are far more worried about securing safe passage on the one ship sailing toward freedom: the 'Wilhelm Gustloff.' Joana, Emilia, and Florian face unexpected danger when Russian torpedoes hit the ship. The desperate struggle to survive unfolds through alternating points of view. 400pp.
 
 Starred Reviews:
Booklist | 12/01/2015
Grades 9-12. Shipwrecks and maritime disasters are of fathomless fascination, with ships such as the Titanic and the Lusitania household names. It's interesting that the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff during WWII, which led to the largest loss of life on a single ship in history, goes largely unremarked upon--at least in America. The numbers are staggering: far over capacity, the ship was carrying approximately 10,582 passengers when it was struck by Soviet torpedoes, and more than 9,400 of those passengers perished in the ensuing wreck, a death toll that dwarfs the Titanic's assumed losses (around 1,500). Part of the neglect might be due to timing. The ship was evacuating refugees and German citizens from Gotenhafen, Poland, when it was sunk in the Baltic Sea in the winter of 1945. Astounding losses defined WWII, and this became yet another tragedy buried under the other tragedies--after all, even 9,400 is dwarfed by 60 million. But it was a tragedy, and, like all tragedies, it broke the people involved down to their barest parts. Sepetys has resurrected the story through the eyes of four young characters trying to reach safety as the Russian army advances: Joana, a Lithuanian nurse; Emilia, a pregnant Polish 15-year-old; Florian, a Prussian artist carrying dangerous cargo; and Alfred, a German naval soldier stationed on the Wilhelm Gustloff. Each has been touched by war and is hunted by the past, and, determined to get on a boat in any way possible, hurtling unknowingly toward disaster. With exquisite prose, Sepetys plumbs the depths of her quartet of characters, bringing each to the breaking point and back, shaping a narrative that is as much about the intricacies of human nature as it is about a historical catastrophe. Nominated for the Morris Award for her first novel, Between Shades of Gray (2011), Sepetys returns to those roots with another harrowing, impeccably researched story of hardship and survival in Eastern Europe. When reading a book so likely to end in tears, one inclination is to avoid getting attached to any of the characters, but that's next to impossible here, so thoroughly does Sepetys mine their inner landscapes. That doesn't mean they are all likable--as it breeds heroes, so, too, does calamity breed cowards and opportunists--but it does make it difficult to think of them as anything other than real people. After all, the ship was very real. It does the people aboard a disservice not to reflect them the best one can. In many ways, the greatest punishment--and the greatest of all tragedies--is to be forgotten. This haunting gem of a novel begs to be remembered, and in turn, it tries to remember the thousands of real people its fictional characters represent. What it asks of us is that their memories--and their stories--not be abandoned to the sea. Reagan, Maggie. 400p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2015.
 
Library Journal | 12/01/2015
January 1945. The war in Europe is in its end stages as German forces are beaten back by the Allied armies. To escape the Soviet advance on the eastern front, thousands of refugees flee to the Polish coast. In this desperate flight for freedom, four young people--each from very different backgrounds and each with dark secrets--connect as they vie for passage on the Willhelm Gustloff, a former pleasure cruiser used to evacuate the refugees. Packed to almost ten times its original capacity, the ship is hit by Soviet torpedoes fewer than 12 hours after leaving port. As the ship sinks into the icy waters of the Baltic Sea, what was supposed to be an avenue for escape quickly becomes another fight to survive the randomness of war. VERDICT YA author Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray; Out of the Easy) describes an almost unknown maritime disaster whose nearly 9,000 casualties dwarfed those of both the Titanic and the Lusitania. Told alternately from the perspective of each of the main characters, the novel also highlights the struggle and sacrifices that ordinary people--children--were forced to make. At once beautiful and heart-wrenching, this title will remind readers that there are far more casualties of war than are recorded in history books. Sure to have crossover appeal for adult readers. Elisabeth Clark, West Florida P.L., Pensacola. 400p. LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2015.
 
School Library Journal | 12/01/2016
Gr 8 Up. In East Prussia at the end of World War II, a group of refugees are desperately making their way toward the one chance they have at survival: passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff. Braving the unforgiving elements, violent soldiers, and an uncertain future, Joana, Emilia, and Florian narrate their harrowing journey, along with unsettling chapters from Alfred, a Nazi sailor. Sepetys brings to vivid life the events and repercussions of this little-known piece of 20th-century history. Mahnaz Dar, Shelley Diaz, Della Farrell, Daryl Grabarek, Kiera Parrott, Luann Toth, Kent Turner, Tyl. SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2016.
 
Publishers Weekly | 11/09/2015
Ages 12-up. Sepetys delivers another knockout historical novel, after Between Shades of Gray and Out of the Easy, that offers insight into the ugly realities of WWII and culminates with a forgotten event, the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff. Set in East Prussia during the brutal winter of 1945, in the waning days of the conflict, and tautly narrated by four strong, distinct voices, the narrative highlights the plight of refugees as Germany tries to evacuate soldiers and civilians: "The brutality was shocking. Disgraceful acts of inhumanity. No one wanted to fall into the hands of the enemy. But it was growing harder to distinguish who the enemy was." The narrators include Florian, a Prussian boy carrying a secret parcel; traumatized 15-year-old Amelia, a Polish girl without papers who hides a mysterious pregnancy; Joana, a repatriated 21-year-old Lithuanian nurse, who believes she's a murderer; and Alfred, a German soldier who imagines writing self-important missives to a girl back home. Their stories collide--first as the three refugees travel through the countryside with a larger group, and then as they try to gain passage on Alfred's ship, the Wilhelm Gustloff, which is doomed to maritime disaster with casualties exceeding those of the Titanic and Lusitania combined. Sepetys excels in shining light on lost chapters of history, and this visceral novel proves a memorable testament to strength and resilience in the face of war and cruelty. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Feb.). 400p. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2015.
 
 Journal Reviews
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books | 02/01/2016
R. Gr. 9-12. As Russian troops move into German territory in 1945, four German teens escape, fleeing both the Red Army and their guilt, shame, and fear. Fifteen-year-old Emilia wishes to forget her encounter with the Russian solders, but her growing belly won't let her; Joana serves as a nurse to make amends for a murder she committed. Florian hopes to get revenge for the death of his father, and Alfred believes his devotion to the Nazi cause will finally earn him a bit of respect. The fates of the four teens collide aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a German transport ship that has a destiny of its own. The teens take turn narrating, their distinct and powerful voices giving their experiences a harrowing immediacy and laying bare the desperation, depravity, and despair of civilians and soldiers alike. With the shaky nervousness of a scared rabbit, Emilia's narration is by far the most heartbreaking, serving as a proxy for the victims of mass rapes perpetrated during the war. Alfred's posturing gives voice to a rabid apostle of the Nazi cause, while the romance that blooms between Florian and Joana offers a shimmer of optimism in the sea of misery. The occasional infodumps are jarring, but they lend much needed context to the complexities of the Russian-German conflict. The book unflinchingly depicts the reality as Russian torpedoes hit the Gustloff, and the voices of the teens turn from prosy to spare as the lifeboats are lowered and thousands die. Even with the bittersweet, hopeful ending, this is still a haunting tale that questions whether small acts of kindness are enough to hold back the tide of human cruelty. An author's note and lists of sources reveals Sepetys' meticulous research. KQG. 400p. THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE UNIV. OF ILLINOIS, c2016.
 
Horn Book | 01/01/2016
High School. The stories of four young adults--each haunted by a secret--converge in this heartbreaking illumination of a little-known WWII tragedy. As Russian soldiers push Nazi forces back to the Baltic Sea, thousands of refugees from the occupied Eastern European countries--including Prussian defector Florian; Emilia, fifteen and pregnant, from Poland; and Joana, a young Lithuanian woman valued for her medical skills--flee toward the slim hope of evacuation by sea. The narrative gains momentum as the travelers near their destination: the port of Gotenhafen (where they encounter Alfred, an inept Nazi soldier who constructs elaborate delusions of his own valor in imagined love letters to an unseen beloved) and ultimately the Wilhelm Gustloff, a vessel destined to sink in the icy Baltic Sea, killing an estimated nine thousand passengers, mostly civilians. Sepetys's (Between Shades of Gray, rev. 5/11) scene-setting is impeccable; the penetrating cold of the journey is palpable, and she excels at conveying the scope of the losses while giving them a human face. Accordingly, each plot thread is a door to a larger history: Florian's secret relates to the systematic Nazi looting of precious art; Emilia, persecuted by both sides (German and Russian), illustrates Poland's plight. Despite a few jarring flaws--in particular, a blind girl whom the author gifts with impossibly heightened other senses--this elegiac tale succeeds with impressive research, affecting characters, and keen, often unsettling insights into humans' counterposed tendencies toward evil and nobility. Readers will be left to discuss which impulse triumphs here. claire e. gross. 393pg. THE HORN BOOK, c2016.
 
BookPage | 02/01/2016
12 and up. BookPage Teen Top Pick, February 2016. On January 30, 1945, a Soviet submarine torpedoed the German ship Wilhelm Gustloff, killing more than 9,000 people. While designated as a military transport vessel, the Wilhelm Gustloff was severely overloaded with civilian evacuees from the Baltic region, including an estimated 5,000 children. The high death toll makes this sinking the greatest maritime tragedy in history. Today, the wreckage still lies off Poland's coast and is often referred to as "the ghost ship." Acclaimed author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) explores this little-known World War II tragedy in her intense and compelling third novel. Salt to the Sea focuses on the lives of four young people from different homelands, each separated from their families during wartime. The narrative shifts throughout as Joana, Emilia, Florian and Alfred chronicle the often terrifying events that bring them together. The first three are seeking escape on the crowded ship; Alfred is one of the Nazi soldiers stationed on it. To tell this harrowing tale, Sepetys traveled to several countries to research the event, but she also has a family connection: Her father's cousin fled Lithuania and had a pass for the ill-fated voyage, but she ended up on another ship. In the author's note, Sepetys writes: "As I wrote this novel I was haunted by the thoughts of the helpless children and teenagers--innocent victims of border shifts, ethnic cleansings, and vengeful regimes." Teen readers will be drawn in by the short chapters, strong characters and heartbreaking story. In scenes reminscent of the sinking of the Titanic, matters of life and death are decided in a single moment. Deborah Hopkinson. 400p. BOOKPAGE, c2016.
 
Horn Book Guide | 11/01/2016
2. The stories of four young adults converge in this illumination of a little-known WWII tragedy. As Russian soldiers push Nazi forces back, Eastern European refugees flee toward the hope of evacuation by sea on the Wilhelm Gustloff, a vessel destined to sink. This elegiac tale succeeds with impressive research, affecting characters, and keen insights into humans' counterposed tendencies toward evil and nobility. cg. 393pg. THE HORN BOOK, c2016.
 
Kirkus Reviews | 11/15/2015
January 1945: as Russians advance through East Prussia, four teens' lives converge in hopes of escape. Returning to the successful formula of her highly lauded debut, Between Shades of Gray (2011), Sepetys combines research (described in extensive backmatter) with well-crafted fiction to bring to life another little-known story: the sinking (from Soviet torpedoes) of the German ship Wilhelm Gustloff. Told in four alternating voices--Lithuanian nurse Joana, Polish Emilia, Prussian forger Florian, and German soldier Alfred--with often contemporary cadences, this stints on neither history nor fiction. The three sympathetic refugees and their motley companions (especially an orphaned boy and an elderly shoemaker) make it clear that while the Gustloff was a German ship full of German civilians and soldiers during World War II, its sinking was still a tragedy. Only Alfred, stationed on the Gustloff, lacks sympathy; almost a caricature, he is self-delusional, unlikable, a Hitler worshiper. As a vehicle for exposition, however, and a reminder of Germany's role in the war, he serves an invaluable purpose that almost makes up for the mustache-twirling quality of his petty villainy. The inevitability of the ending (including the loss of several characters) doesn't change its poignancy, and the short chapters and slowly revealed back stories for each character guarantee the pages keep turning. Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful. (author's note, research and sources, maps) (Historical fiction. 12-16). 400pg. KIRKUS MEDIA LLC, c2015.
 
VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates Magazine) | 12/01/2015
4Q 3P J S NA. It is January, 1945. The Russians are pushing the Germans slowly back towards Berlin. Millions of refugees are on the move, running from the Red Army. With the front moving faster than people can walk, however, escape routes are dwindling. Joana, Emilia, and Florian end up together in a small refugee group, desperately trying to reach Gotenhafen and one of the few ships that can take them to safety. Alfred, meanwhile, is a new sailor manning one of these escape ships, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Each of the four has their own reasons for fleeing and their own secrets they hope remain buried. As they rush towards rescue, all of them will face personal crises and will have to shed their own humanity in order to become one of the few survivors of the greatest maritime disaster in history. This well-researched historical novel sheds light on a terrible period in history and personalizes many of the issues that afflicted Europe during the Second World War, and in particular the horrifying sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff near the end of the war. The retelling of the same events through four different sets of eyes is distracting at first but becomes fully integrated in the story, allowing the reader to experience different reactions. Each character is well-defined, and the supporting cast adds to the atmosphere of panic and fear that pervades the book. Fans of World War II stories and fans of Sepetys's other novels will appreciate this tale of tragedy and survival.--Etienne Vallee. This book includes all the reasons why teens read: for knowledge, for romance, for amazing and irritating characters. This novel will break readers' hearts and then put them back together a little more whole. 5Q, 3P.--Elizabeth Mills, Teen Reviewer. 400p. VOICE OF YOUTH ADVOCATES, c2015.