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Carenza, Our Lady's Abingdon (OLA)

Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea is set in war torn Germany. It follows four young people and is told from their four different perspectives. It is a work of historical fiction, closely linking to real events. All four of the characters meet through the ship Wilhelm Gustloff, which they are all trying to board in order to reach safety. The main characters are: Joana, a Lithuanian with some medical training; Emilia, a Polish refugee; Florian, a Prussian with links to a large scale crime; and Alfred, a 'misguided' young German who puts his whole faith in the teachings of the Fuhrer.

This book explores some quite difficult themes, the main one being that war is awful for everyone involved. This theme is accentuated during one point in the book when one of the characters is surprised to find out that the Americans are suffering too. Another main question raised during this book is: Would you want to survive when your well-being is dependent on the misfortune of others? One other theme is guilt. If your actions led to the pain and sometimes even demise of others, how do you cope? Are you always guilty? It also made you consider racism. The third Reich was very selective and discriminative based on race, and it made me think about the different forms of racism. To discriminate based on nationality, appearance and religion is very, very wrong, and this book shows that in its own way.

My least favourite character was Alfred, as he seemed unwilling to question what he was told by the Fuhrer. He was also racist and unable to understand other people's feelings.

I liked Salt to the Sea, as my family is from mainland Europe and I felt that this was a good way of displaying the difficulties everyone faced during the Second World War, the four perspectives assisting this. I would not recommend this book to younger children, as they would probably find it distressing, and miss the meaning.

Posted on: 19th March 2017 at 12:11 pm

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