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Mabel, Ashmole Academy

Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea is a rare read. It was one of those books that personalizes disgusting displays of human greed, makes us realize what war can do to people. It brings out heroes for sure but it also creates some of the worst people imaginable. This is what this book reflects on and more, as it follows the stories of Alfred, Joana, Emilia and Florian. All of these characters show certain aspects of the war.

Joana is a young nurse, forced away from her country to work in a hospital for four years without any mention form her family since. Blaming herself for murder she tries to heal all the people affected by the war. Joana is a very interesting and believable character, with a distinct, almost stubborn aspect of her personality which endangers her several times as she is forced to watch as innocent people die. I believe Joana could be a representation of Britain and France/The Allied Forces during the time when Hitler came to power. They had to watch as Hitler invaded country after county, powerless to do anything. Yet this is where the similarities stop, as Joana finds the capabilities to save many lives.

Alfred represents the many who fell prey to propaganda from both sides of the war. So full of slogans and implanted beliefs that he becomes an entirely different person, with no sense of free will. Committing atrocities in the name of war, and this is what makes Alfred such a compellingly effective character, his warped view of himself and the world around him clashing with how everyone else perceives him.

Florian is also an interesting character, not particularly having a side, preferring to wreck rage and revenge on those who have wronged him. Once innocent and helpful, Florian worked with Dr Lange to "Renovate" historic paintings. Now Florian thinks the entire world is like this; that is until he meets Joana.

Emilia is one of my favourite characters for several reasons. Despite the fact that she is also portrayed as the victim or as being weak the truth could not be more far from it. She is one of the strongest and bravest characters in the entire story, despite not being what the world may have considered brave at the time.

A heart-wrenchingly powerful tale, contrasting beauty with horror filled scenes (the imagery is particularly vivid) I would recommend this to anyone who likes history or is interested in believable, truthful characters.

Posted on: 18th June 2017 at 05:25 pm

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