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Emily, Our Lady's Abingdon (OLA)

Salt to the Sea

I was expecting Salt to the Sea to be an enjoyable read as some of my friends had read it before me and raved about it. I was not disappointed. Salt to the Sea is an extremely good book that is very well written. It is set during the Second World War and told from four different perspectives, all very different characters, all hiding something. Throughout the book, these secrets are gradually revealed to you and there are moments when you really want to read on to find out what it is they are hiding. It was the first book I have read (I think - don't quote me!) told in the first person from more than two different perspectives.
The book follows three of the four characters as they travel through Europe to try to get on a ship to take them to north Germany. They successfully board a ship, the Wilhelm Gustaloff and also meet the fourth protagonist.
So, who are the four characters? They are: Joana, a Lithuanian nurse who has fled her country and is trying to reach Germany; Florian, an East Prussian youth who seems very guarded and is trying to get to Denmark; Emilia, a Polish refugee who is in a lot of danger because of her nationality; and, finally, Alfred, a German sailor who is very self-centred. I didn't have a favourite character but my least favourite was Alfred: he had such a big sense of his own importance.

This book is interesting for me as, being English; I often read books set in war time England so it was nice to read something from a different perspective. It reminded me that, just because the Allies won the war, it doesn't mean everything they did during it was right. It also reminded me how much racism there was at the time.

My only negative comment is that there were moments early on where I didn't feel it was living up to my friends' raving. Interestingly, due to the chapters being short, I never got confused by which character was talking.

I would give it 9/10 because it was very well written and an extremely gripping story.

Posted on: 4th April 2017 at 01:19 pm

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