War had bled color from everything, leaving nothing but a storm of gray.
When I read a young adult novel, I don't want to feel like I'm reading a young adult novel. Too much to ask? I don't think so. Now I know not every book can be The Book Thief, but there are plenty of young adult and children's books with huge crossover appeal due to powerful prose: Wolf Hollow and The War that Saved my Life immediately come to mind. This book just isn't one of them.
I liked, but didn't love, Salt to the Sea. Historically speaking, this is an important read and I would recommend it to any teenager I know. How can it be that a tragedy of such horrific proportions has remained relatively unknown? That such a story could be overshadowed speaks to the scope of suffering during WWll. It is estimated that 9,400 people died, many of them children, in the sinking of the MV Willhelm Gustholff by a Soviet submarine—making it the largest loss of life in history from a single ship sinking. To put the tragedy in context, 1,198 died in the sinking of the Lusitania and around 1,500 lives were lost from the Titanic.
The story is such a compelling (and tragic) one, but sadly, I never really connected to the characters. They seemed too predictable and loosely drawn. The love story we see coming from the first few pages also rang hollow for me. It just all felt so teenager-y. Which to be fair to Ruta Sepetys, that is her target audience. Thanks to her, a forgotten tale in need of telling has come to life. Making historical fiction appealing to teens is no small feat. I just can't help mourning the story it might have been.
*This was our July book club selection so we'd love to hear from any of you who read it. Agree? Disagree? Loved it? Hated it? We're all ears!