Book Review: “Salt to the Sea” by Ruta Sepetys | Spoiler-Free

Hello! So I have found that I enjoy doing Spoiler-Free book reviews more than spoiler ones, so I am back with yet another Spoiler-Free review. This is probably due to the fact that I am super lazy and just want to devour books rather than take notes for my spoiler reviews. But let’s get into it.


So this is historical fiction, a novel surrounding the worst maritime disaster in history. The sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff.

In the book, we follow four main characters all from different countries and backgrounds. You have Emilia, the young polish girl, Joana, the Lithuanian nurse, Florian, the Prussian art thief, and Alfred, the German sailor. They are all haunted by tragedy and loss and war and this war brings them all together when they end up traveling to get on the ship, the Wilhelm Gustloff, which is named after the president of the Nazi party.

This ship is built to hold about 1500 passengers. It used to be a cruise/vacation ship. It was converted to hold refugees who are evacuating. It now holds over 10, 000 passengers. Talk about cramped. They all have secrets and they begin to really come to light as the story progresses. There is even a love story, but I won’t tell you between who. It is very slow-burning, which mad me love this book even more. It felt very realistic.

Your secondary characters are just as important, I think. I love these characters and feel like they were developed just as well. You have the Shoe Poet, the Wandering Boy, Eva, and Ingrid. I really loved every single one of these characters. The Shoe Poet really pushes the two main character together, which I really loved. Every character was just developed fantastically well. I really felt like I was in Germany during WWII.

My Thoughts:

This book was so captivating and such a moving and powerful story. It really opened my eyes to a history that I never really got to see in school. You never see the side of the Russians and how Stalin was advancing in addition to Hitler’s dictatorship. This book, as you can imagine, was very depressing, but it shed light on a piece of history we didn’t know about. And the writing was gorgeous. The only problem I had with this was the ending. It seemed rather abrupt and it confused me a bit. Overall, a very great and captivating read!

4/5 hearts

Love You All to Luna and Back,


P. S. This part will contain spoilers, so don’t read this if you haven’t read the book.

But I just wanted to talk about the characters a little bit.

Joana: I love her character. She really cares about people and wants to save everyone. And I ship her with Florian SO HARD.

Florian: I loved him from the start. He is such a compelling and interesting character.

Emilia: she just seemed so innocent and to learn what happened to her…oh, it was so sad. And I am still confused as to what happened to her.

Alfred: I never liked his character. I think he was an annoying sociopath who was blinded by his adoration of Hitler. He literally worshiped the man, which is why I hate him.

Ingrid: I really liked her character. She seemed so sweet and when she died, it really tugged at my heart, especially with Joana’s reaction.

The Shoe Poet: he is my fave. I feel like he is just such a sweet and interesting character. I loved the little grandfather and son relationship between him and The Wandering Boy. It absolutely broke my heart when he died.

The Wandering Boy: he is so sweet. I love his character and how he views the Shoe Poet like his grandfather.


One thought on “Book Review: “Salt to the Sea” by Ruta Sepetys | Spoiler-Free

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