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Salt to the sea : a novel
2016
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Frantically racing to freedom with thousands of other refugees as Russian forces close in on their homes in East Prussia, Joana, Emilia and Florian meet aboard the doomed Wilhelm Gustloff and are forced to trust each other in order to survive. By the award-winning author of Out of the Easy. Simultaneous eBook. - (Baker & Taylor)

Racing to freedom with thousands of other refugees as Russian forces close in on their homes in East Prussia, Joana, Emilia, and Florian meet aboard the doomed Wilhelm Gustloff and are forced to trust each other in order to survive. - (Baker & Taylor)

"As World War II draws to a close, refugees try to escape the war's final dangers, only to find themselves aboard a ship with a target on its hull"-- - (Baker & Taylor)

New York Times Bestseller and winner of the Carnegie Medal! "Masterfully crafted"The Wall Street Journal

For readers of Between Shades of Gray and All the Light We Cannot See, Ruta Sepetys returns to WWII in this epic novel that shines a light on one of the war's most devastating—yet unknown—tragedies.

World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, many 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 to safety.

Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people—adults and children alike—aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.

Told in alternating points of view and perfect for fans of Anthony Doerr's Pulitzer Prize-winning All the Light We Cannot See, Erik Larson's Dead Wake, and Elizabeth Wein's Printz Honor Book Code Name Verity, this masterful work of historical fiction is inspired by the real-life tragedy that was the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloffthe greatest maritime disaster in history. As she did in Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys unearths a shockingly little-known casualty of a gruesome war, and proves that humanity and love can prevail, even in the darkest of hours.

Praise for Salt to the Sea:

Featured on NPR's Morning Edition  ♦  "Superlative...masterfully crafted...[a] powerful work of historical fiction."—The Wall Street Journal  ♦  "[Sepetys is] a master of YA fiction…she once again anchors a panoramic view of epic tragedy in perspectives that feel deeply textured and immediate."—Entertainment Weekly  ♦  "Riveting...powerful...haunting."—The Washington Post  ♦ "Compelling for both adult and teenage readers."—New York Times Book Review  ♦  "Intimate, extraordinary, artfully crafted...brilliant."—Shelf Awareness  ♦  "Historical fiction at its very, very best."—The Globe and Mail  ♦  "[H]aunting, heartbreaking, hopeful and altogether gorgeous...one of the best young-adult novels to appear in a very long time."—Salt Lake Tribune  ♦  *"This haunting gem of a novel begs to be remembered."—Booklist  ♦  *"Artfully told and sensitively crafted...will leave readers weeping."—School Library Journal  ♦  A PW and SLJ 2016 Book of the Year

Praise for Between Shades of Gray:
A New York Times Notable Book  ♦  A Wall Street Journal Best Children’s Book  ♦  A PWSLJ, Booklist, and Kirkus Best Book  ♦  iTunes 2011 Rewind Best Teen Novel  ♦  A Carnegie Medal and William C. Morris Finalist  ♦  A New York Times and International Bestseller  ♦  "Few books are beautifully written, fewer still are important; this novel is both."—The Washington Post  ♦  *"[A]n important book that deserves the widest possible readership."—Booklist - (Penguin Putnam)

Author Biography

Ruta Sepetys (www.rutasepetys.com) is an internationally acclaimed, #1 New York Times bestselling author of historical fiction published in over sixty countries and forty languages. Sepetys is considered a "crossover" novelist, as her books are read by both teens and adults worldwide. Her novels Between Shades of Gray, Out of the Easy, and Salt to the Sea have won or been shortlisted for more than forty book prizes, and are included on more than sixty state award lists. Between Shades of Gray was adapted into the film Ashes in the Snow, and her other novels are currently in development for TV and film. Winner of the Carnegie Medal, Ruta is passionate about the power of history and literature to foster global awareness and connectivity. She has presented to NATO, to the European Parliament, in the United States Capitol, and at embassies worldwide. Ruta was born and raised in Michigan and now lives with her family in Nashville, Tennessee. Follow her on Twitter @RutaSepetys and Instagram @RutaSepetysAuthor.

- (Penguin Putnam)

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Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Shipwrecks and maritime disasters are of fathomless fascination, with ships such as the Titanic and the Lusitania household names. It's interesting that the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff during WWII, which led to the largest loss of life on a single ship in history, goes largely unremarked upon—at least in America. The numbers are staggering: far over capacity, the ship was carrying approximately 10,582 passengers when it was struck by Soviet torpedoes, and more than 9,400 of those passengers perished in the ensuing wreck, a death toll that dwarfs the Titanic's assumed losses (around 1,500). Part of the neglect might be due to timing. The ship was evacuating refugees and German citizens from Gotenhafen, Poland, when it was sunk in the Baltic Sea in the winter of 1945. Astounding losses defined WWII, and this became yet another tragedy buried under the other tragedies—after all, even 9,400 is dwarfed by 60 million. But it was a tragedy, and, like all tragedies, it broke the people involved down to their barest parts. Sepetys has resurrected the story through the eyes of four young characters trying to reach safety as the Russian army advances: Joana, a Lithuanian nurse; Emilia, a pregnant Polish 15-year-old; Florian, a Prussian artist carrying dangerous cargo; and Alfred, a German naval soldier stationed on the Wilhelm Gustloff. Each has been touched by war and is hunted by the past, and, determined to get on a boat in any way possible, hurtling unknowingly toward disaster. With exquisite prose, Sepetys plumbs the depths of her quartet of characters, bringing each to the breaking point and back, shaping a narrative that is as much about the intricacies of human nature as it is about a historical catastrophe. Nominated for the Morris Award for her first novel, Between Shades of Gray (2011), Sepetys returns to those roots with another harrowing, impeccably researched story of hardship and survival in Eastern Europe. When reading a book so likely to end in tears, one inclination is to avoid getting attached to any of the characters, but that's next to impossible here, so thoroughly does Sepetys mine their inner landscapes. That doesn't mean they are all likable—as it breeds heroes, so, too, does calamity breed cowards and opportunists—but it does make it difficult to think of them as anything other than real people. After all, the ship was very real. It does the people aboard a disservice not to reflect them the best one can. In many ways, the greatest punishment—and the greatest of all tragedies—is to be forgotten. This haunting gem of a novel begs to be remembered, and in turn, it tries to remember the thousands of real people its fictional characters represent. What it asks of us is that their memories—and their stories—not be abandoned to the sea. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 8 Up—With the same lyrical prose, eye for detail, and breath-stopping ability to unfold delicate layers of characterization and theme with skillfully paced revelations, the author of Between Shades of Gray (2011) and Out of the Easy (2013, both Philomel) presents a fictionalized World War II story based on a true tragedy. In alternating narratives, four different teens grapple with the bitter cold, the ever-present danger of falling bombs, and their own dark secrets. There's Joana, a pretty and empathetic Lithuanian nurse who harbors a heavy guilt; Florian, a mysterious young man struggling to hide his true identity; Amelia, a pregnant Polish girl; and Alfred, a sociopathic Nazi sailor with an inferiority complex. Along with a fully realized cast of secondary characters who comprise the small band of refugees slowly making their way through the frozen and battle-scarred Prussian countryside, Joana, Florian, and Amelia are determined to get aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a German military ship evacuating civilians and wounded soldiers at the tail end of the war. Alfred, meanwhile, a low-ranking officer stationed aboard the ship, avoids work by hiding in the toilets, composing imaginary and boastful letters to a girl back home. Each voice is distinct, and Sepetys unwinds their individual backstories slowly and with care. As the relationships among the refugees strengthen and they begin to trust one another, vulnerabilities are revealed—some of them life-threatening. Observations of war and loss, human cruelty, and hatred are unflinching. But through the horror and heartbreak shine rays of hope: love, kindness, courage, and sacrifice. VERDICT Artfully told and sensitively crafted, Sepetys's exploration of this little-known piece of history will leave readers weeping.—Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal

[Page 128]. (c) Copyright 2015 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 8 Up—In East Prussia at the end of World War II, a group of refugees are desperately making their way toward the one chance they have at survival: passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff. Braving the unforgiving elements, violent soldiers, and an uncertain future, Joana, Emilia, and Florian narrate their harrowing journey, along with unsettling chapters from Alfred, a Nazi sailor. Sepetys brings to vivid life the events and repercussions of this little-known piece of 20th-century history.. Copyright 2016 School Library Journal.

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