About the book:
Salt to the sea tells the story of 4 teenagers who for different reasons end in the Wilhelm Gustloff, a German ship evacuating mostly civil population from east Prussia to Kiel (Germany) which sank in the Baltic Sea after being torpedoed by the soviets near the end of WWII.
I'm not a YA reader, and I'm not good at rating YA. I love middle grade novels and I read many along the year (do not look at me like that! I have a few kids I use as an excuse!), but when it comes to YA I feel like I always expect more from the plot and the writing, and I'm generally disappointed. The first 65-70% of this book wasn't different, but the last part was very intense, emotional, and the end perfectly appropriate IMHO.
About the tragedy:
We all know about the Titanic (1,500 people died) and the Lusitania (1,200), but the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff was the single greatest maritime tragedy in history. She was evacuating over 10,000 people, less than 10% were Nazy officers (wounded), the other 90% were civil population finally allowed to evacuate the area being occupied by the soviets. 9,400 drowned, 5,000 of them were children. I can't believe I never heard about it. I actually feel ashamed. I felt even worst when I read in the author's note about more sunk ships: General von Steuben (4,000 died), Goya (6,500), and also the Thielbek and the Cap Arcona, both carrying Jewish prisoners (totaling 7,000 people who lost their lives). I feel the moral obligation of reading more about these events. I'd like to thank Ruta Sepetys for bringing this topic to my attention.