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Sophie, Our Lady's Abingdon (OLA)

Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea is a very powerful book, seeing the different side of the Second World War. Normally when you read war books, they are based on people escaping the Nazis but this book is written from a different point of view. The book is written from each of the character's perspectives and alternates between them every few pages, sometimes making it hard to follow.

The lives of four young people meet as they aim to escape Northern Germany by boarding the Wilhelm Gustloff. Most of the people meet on the way to Gotenhafen, the port that holds the boat that promises freedom. The characters are plagued by lies and guilt, sometimes event leaving loved ones behind to die. The main characters in the book are Joana, a Lithuanian who is also a trained medic; Florain, who is a Prussian solider on a 'secret' mission; Emilia, who is a Polish refugee with no papers so is not supposed to be in Germany; and Alfred, a mean, vain German soldier who only believes in the Fuhrer.

The book describes gruesome details very clearly - many things like morbid descriptions of corpses, the dead and horrible ways of becoming pregnant are not uncommon. In the book, many of the characters die and only very few remain. I enjoyed the way it was based on a real disaster, instead of making one up for the purpose of the book. Operation Hannibal really came to life and the fear of not surviving was real. The detail about how the characters are all afraid and all having secrets that they want to keep secret including how they ended up there, their past lives and what they are really up to are very alive in the book.

My least favourite character is Alfred because he is insensitive and vain. An example of this is when the boat is in danger, everyone else fears about their family, the other passengers or the people they were going to meet, but Alfred only thinks 'If I die I won't get my medal'.

I would give this book five out of five stars, because of the description and the secretive characters. I would recommend this book for 11+ only, because of the gory descriptions and actions and because younger children may find it uncomfortable and won't understand the meaning.

Posted on: 5th April 2017 at 12:42 pm

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