Book Reviews | Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

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Being the true to form introvert that I am, books have always been something I’ve taken solace in when times were tough. They’ve made me laugh harder than you’d ever expect, they’ve made me sob uncontrollably, they’ve made me rethink my entire world view, and everything in-between. There’s something really special about the fact that some words on a page can evoke such an intense response from a reader, on so many different levels. I read more than most of the people I know, but I don’t feel like you need to read a lot in order to enjoy books and be absorbed in the stories that are waiting to be read. And because of that, I always recommend that my friends read book reviews before picking a book up, to get a feel for what they are reading. I am always quick to offer my thoughts on a book when anyone asks. Its so discouraging for people to pick up a book, only to find that it doesn’t suit them or isn’t an enjoyable experience, particularly for people that may not read often. That is why I’ve decided to share my thoughts on some of the books I read on this blog. I’ve never properly reviewed a book before, at least not through the written word, but I can assure you that all of the thoughts and feelings expressed in these reviews will be my own, and that they will ALWAYS be spoiler free, unless otherwise noted in the title of the post. Without further ado, here are my thoughts on Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys.

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“In 1945, World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer toward safety. Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.
A tribute to the people of Lithuania, Poland, and East Prussia, Ruta Sepetys unearths a shockingly little-known casualty of a gruesome war, and proves that humanity can prevail, even in the darkest of hours.” – Ruta Sepetys

Long story short, I loved this book. It was everything I wanted it to be and more. I rated it 4.5/5 stars. This book was thrilling, beautiful, gripping, and perfectly told. This was one of those books that stuck with me. I kept thinking about the story and the characters, well after the last page was finished. Ruta Sepetys has this way of embedding her words into your mind and almost compelling you to think about them, and that’s something I really appreciate in an author. Even more so in a historical fiction author. It’s quite easy for writers to get wrapped up in the research side of historical fiction, and some novels can start to get a bit fuzzy, bending itself into feeling more like a textbook than an enjoyable read, and I was thankful that this did not happen with Salt to the Sea. This book pulled you in, it told you the facts of the situation but it also made you feel them. I hadn’t learned much about the voyage of the Wilhelm Gustloff in school or otherwise, so this was something new for me. The real life events surrounding the Wilhelm Gustloff are incredibly tragic, and this book details them tastefully and beautifully, but it is not a depressing story. It doesn’t leave you feeling worn out and upset, even though the events are quite sad. Instead you feel a sense of love and are able to connect with the characters that Ruta has provided. The characters are incredible as well, not just on the character development side, which is fantastic, but just the range of characters is really special. There are a variety of characters of different ages and backgrounds, and you’re able to connect to all four of our main characters effortlessly, and view the story from so many different angles.

World War II is a topic that is discussed a lot in historical fiction novels, but this book sets itself apart. It touches on events that are less prominent in the genre, and it pulls you in deep, into the inner workings of the characters within the story, in a way that most other novels of its kind simply haven’t succeeded in. Once you’ve closed this book, you will cry. You will smile. You will feel like you’ve learned something. This book will impact you in a way you may not expect it to, and you will be eagerly awaiting Ruta Sepetys’ next book just as much as the rest of us are.

Welcome, to whatever this is!

   11099686_10206881722901171_2462851674076314336_oI suppose I should start this post by saying hello! If you’re reading this, you’ve stumbled upon this blog that I hope you will enjoy. My name is Alexis, but everyone just calls me Lexie. I’m a 21 year old undergrad student stumbling through life and I thought I would start this blog to give myself somewhere to escape to when I just want to get away from the real world for a while, because who wants to live in the real world all the time? That’s the first thing you should know about me; I’m a daydreamer. There isn’t a moment that goes by that I’m not lost in my own mind, reflecting on all the things that I wish would happen, and all the things I hope will happen. I have been this way for as long as I can remember, and I don’t think I want it to change, even if it causes my day-to-day life to feel a bit boring and underwhelming in comparison. That thought brings me back to thinking about what this blog actually is. In short, I have no idea. I haven’t thought that far ahead. I don’t have goals in mind for this blog to be anything other than my own personal journal, that also happens to be open for the world to see. I don’t plan to make blogging a career, or do anything professional with it. This is just a place for me to be open, and post what I feel like posting at the time. The posts made here will be everything from personal reflections on my life, photos and stories from little adventures I get up to on a day-to-day basis, reviews of books I’m reading, vacations that I go on, recipes that I come up with etc,. If you chose to read these posts, that’s lovely! Welcome to my life! If not, that’s fine too. But for those of you that want to follow the adventures of Lexie, as the title of the blog suggests, then maybe you should know a bit more about me.
I happen to be a somewhat introverted person. Which may be why I’m choosing an online written blog as my outlet of choice. Being introverted doesn’t mean that it’s impossible for me to interact with people or be social, in fact, I’m a very social person. I just also happen to be a bit nervous in crowds, and would prefer not to be the center of attention when at all possible. But the social side of me comes out in the fact that I love talking to people. Hearing someone else’s stories and thoughts is something that makes me incredibly happy, I just prefer to do it through written words rather than ones spoken out loud. The written word is a very important part of my life. Books have always been my escape. Since childhood, I have always turned to books when things got tough or boring or anything really. I feel that books are the most important things in the world. The first book that I remember reading was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and I think that book completely shaped who I am. It sparked something in me that opened up a world of possibilities. I didn’t have to be alone as the little nerdy girl that didn’t fit in, I had somewhere that I belonged, it just so happened to be a magical world inside a book. I think from those experiences on, I’ve always been wrapped up in fairy tales, wishing that I could just dive headfirst into the worlds of books, movies and television shows, which is something that continues to this day. I’d say I could be described as a bit of a “nerd” or “geek” if you will. My love of writing, reading, and science fiction programs have often led people to that conclusion, so why not embrace it?
I suppose I’ll end this little introduction to myself for now, as there will be plenty of opportunities for you to get to know me through my posts in the coming days, weeks, and months as I begin this adventure into the world of online blogging!

I’ll end this by saying its lovely to “meet” you, and I’m very excited about this new creative outlet that I have built for myself.

I hope you’re doing well, where ever you are in the world, and I wish you all the best.

-Lexie Xx