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Freya, Impington Village College

Salt to the Sea

This poignant book is all about the second world war and the effects it had on different people. The interchanging chapters are narrated by four different characters whose stories eventually intertwine.

Emilia is a 15 year old Polish girl whose part was the most difficult to read because she had a very unpleasant past and her story got even more bleak as the book went on. At times I felt that she acted slightly childishly for her age but maybe that was intended because of her incomplete education.

Joana is a Lithuanian nurse who leads a group of refugees as they leave Germany and travel through the harsh winter. The group includes the shoe poet who I thought improved the book with his gentle edge of fatherly wisdom.

Florian is an injured young man with a secret. I found his story slightly confusing as the book developed but I liked that he became kinder and more understanding of other peoples lives at the end.

Alfred is a narcissistic, Hitler-supporter who prepares boats ready for the thousands of people fleeing the war. I thought it was interesting that Sepetys chose an antagonist to narrate part of this novel because usually you are supposed to connect with the narrator. It worked out really well though because I despised him which meant I wanted to continue reading to find out what would happen to him. Also most of his narration was told through imaginary letters to Hannelore which was a unique way to learn about Alfred and how he viewed himself.

I quite liked this book because although I knew lots about the Germans and British I didn’t know anything about the Lithuanians or much about the Polish during WW2. It was compelling to experience and learn what it was like for them especially through Joana as most of the characters relied on her to be strong.

I compared this book to the Book Thief a lot. Normally I don’t enjoy war books but having read the Book Thief and really enjoyed it I thought this book might be just as engrossing. But it dragged on and wasn’t quite concluded to my satisfaction. It was also deeply depressing and quite difficult to read at times so I think there should have been a more positive ending.

Posted on: 23rd May 2017 at 03:16 pm

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