Number of pages: 400
Number of times read (including the time before this review): 1
Rating (out of five stars): 4
I definitely enjoyed reading Salt to the Sea more than I enjoyed reading Between Shades of Gray. Salt to the Sea is overall more compelling, more complex, and more interesting than Between Shades of Gray was. Salt to the Sea gives you 4 very different, complex characters and makes you want to unravel their stories.
Let’s start with the characters. Our cast of main characters consists of a delusional German, a kind Lithuanian Nurse, a skeptical Prussian artist, and a terrified Polish girl. I think that it was wonderful to see how all four character’s stories intertwined, though they were all very different. I enjoyed how each character could be interpreted differently, depending on the reader. The main character I was disgusted by could easily be pitied, one of the characters I found to be immature and whinny is also brave and mature in some scenes, and one of my favorite characters could easily be hated because they are a criminal. Complexity makes the best characters. (Side note: was anyone else disgusted by Alfred from his second chapter?). I also loved the side characters. There was opinionated, selfish Eva, Ingrid, a blind girl with heightened other senses, and the shoe poet, who I wish was my grandfather.
Salt to the Sea is one of those books for which short chapters really work, because it allows you to leave the perspective of a character you hate rather quickly. The short chapters also keeps you in suspense, as you spend so little time with the character that you need keep reading more and more to even partly piece together their life.
As I said in my Between Shades of Gray review, I love reading about history, especially obscure historical events, and if you want to read about those events in a YA setting, Ruta Sepetys is the author for you. I am a person who avoids mention of World War 2 like the plague, because it just makes me incredibly uncomfortable and upset (not that other events haven’t made me upset, uncomfortable, and disgusted at the kinds of despicable humans that can exist, World War 2 is just one of the big historical ones), but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to learn about this tragedy that I knew nothing about. I think that if you are like me and genuinely enjoy learning, you will enjoy Sepetys’ books.
Overall, Salt to the Sea was a gripping and emotional read, and I grant it 4 stars out of 5.