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Jac McNulty, North Huddersfield Trust School

Salt to the Sea

This is the first book that I chose to read for the Carnegie Shadowing Award and I chose it because I thought it would be the one that I would least enjoy after I had read the blurb… How wrong could I be?

It is narrated from the perspectives of four different characters: Joana, a Lithuanian nurse; Emilia, a Polish girl; Alfred, a Nazi soldier; and Florian, an art forger who has worked for the Nazis. They are all fleeing the Russian army and heading for safety in the shape of the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that will transport them and thousands of other refugees away from harm.

Every character is carrying some kind of secret or experience that has affected them personally, and as the characters cross paths, you become embroiled in their lives which will inevitably become intertwined.

I was pretty sure that this book would probably be emotional and quite hard to read in the sense that it would contain some upsetting themes, being set during World War II, but I had no idea that I would feel so strongly about the characters. I became completely wrapped up in their stories, and I couldn’t wait to find out their secrets. This story really made me consider the lives of all the people that were involved in this war, the innocents and the not-so-innocents. I was expecting a very upsetting ending and that surprised me as well, because it wasn’t quite what I had anticipated, although I admit I did cry when I reached the last page!

I cannot wait to read the rest of the Carnegie shortlist! I would recommend this book to anybody. It has made me consider reading more historical fiction – I love that this book has opened my eyes to a whole new genre that I would previously not have considered!

Posted on: 4th April 2017 at 10:52 am

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